country:netherlands

  • View from Nowhere. Is it the press’s job to create a community that transcends borders?

    A few years ago, on a plane somewhere between Singapore and Dubai, I read Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983). I was traveling to report on the global market for passports—how the ultrawealthy can legally buy citizenship or residence virtually anywhere they like, even as 10 million stateless people languish, unrecognized by any country. In the process, I was trying to wrap my head around why national identity meant so much to so many, yet so little to my passport-peddling sources. Their world was the very image of Steve Bannon’s globalist nightmare: where you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many passports.

    Anderson didn’t address the sale of citizenship, which only took off in earnest in the past decade; he did argue that nations, nationalism, and nationality are about as organic as Cheez Whiz. The idea of a nation, he writes, is a capitalist chimera. It is a collective sense of identity processed, shelf-stabilized, and packaged before being disseminated, for a considerable profit, to a mass audience in the form of printed books, news, and stories. He calls this “print-capitalism.”

    Per Anderson, after the printing press was invented, nearly 600 years ago, enterprising booksellers began publishing the Bible in local vernacular languages (as opposed to the elitist Latin), “set[ting] the stage for the modern nation” by allowing ordinary citizens to participate in the same conversations as the upper classes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the proliferation (and popularity) of daily newspapers further collapsed time and space, creating an “extraordinary mass ceremony” of reading the same things at the same moment.

    “An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his 240,000,000–odd fellow Americans,” Anderson wrote. “He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time.” But with the knowledge that others are reading the same news, “he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity.”

    Should the press be playing a role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together?

    Of course, national presses enabled more explicit efforts by the state itself to shape identity. After the US entered World War I, for instance, President Woodrow Wilson set out to make Americans more patriotic through his US Committee on Public Information. Its efforts included roping influential mainstream journalists into advocating American-style democracy by presenting US involvement in the war in a positive light, or simply by referring to Germans as “Huns.” The committee also monitored papers produced by minorities to make sure they supported the war effort not as Indians, Italians, or Greeks, but as Americans. Five Irish-American papers were banned, and the German-American press, reacting to negative stereotypes, encouraged readers to buy US bonds to support the war effort.

    The US media played an analogous role in selling the public on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But ever since then, in the digital economy, its influence on the national consciousness has waned. Imagined Communities was published seven years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty-two years before Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and a couple of decades before the internet upended print-capitalism as the world knew it (one of Anderson’s footnotes is telling, if quaint: “We still have no giant multinationals in the world of publishing”).

    Since Trump—a self-described nationalist—became a real contender for the US presidency, many news organizations have taken to looking inward: consider the running obsession with the president’s tweets, for instance, or the nonstop White House palace intrigue (which the president invites readily).

    Meanwhile, the unprofitability of local and regional papers has contributed to the erosion of civics, which, down the line, makes it easier for billionaires to opt out of old “imagined communities” and join new ones based on class and wealth, not citizenship. And given the challenges humanity faces—climate change, mass migration, corporate hegemony, and our relationships to new technologies—even if national papers did make everyone feel like they shared the same narrative, a renewed sense of national pride would prove impotent in fighting world-historic threats that know no borders.

    Should the press, then, be playing an analogous role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together? If it was so important in shaping national identity, can it do so on a global scale?

    Like my passport-buying subjects, I am what Theresa May, the former British prime minister, might call a “citizen of nowhere.” I was born in one place to parents from another, grew up in a third, and have lived and traveled all over. That informs my perspective: I want deeply for there to be a truly cosmopolitan press corps, untethered from national allegiances, regional biases, class divisions, and the remnants of colonial exploitation. I know that’s utopian; the international working class is hardly a lucrative demographic against which publishers can sell ads. But we seem to be living in a time of considerable upheaval and opportunity. Just as the decline of religiously and imperially organized societies paved the way for national alternatives, then perhaps today there is a chance to transcend countries’ boundaries, too.

    Does the US media help create a sense of national identity? If nationalism means putting the interests of one nation—and what its citizens are interested in—before more universal concerns, then yes. Most journalists working for American papers, websites, and TV write in English with a national audience (or regional time zone) in mind, which affects how we pitch, source, frame, and illustrate a story—which, in turn, influences our readers, their country’s politics, and, down the line, the world. But a news peg isn’t an ideological form of nationalism so much as a practical or methodological one. The US press feeds off of more pernicious nationalisms, too: Donald Trump’s false theory about Barack Obama being “secretly” Kenyan, disseminated by the likes of Fox and The Daily Caller, comes to mind.

    That isn’t to say that global news outlets don’t exist in the US. When coaxing subscribers, the Financial Times, whose front page often includes references to a dozen different countries, openly appeals to their cosmopolitanism. “Be a global citizen. Become an FT Subscriber,” read a recent banner ad, alongside a collage featuring the American, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, and European Union flags (though stories like the recent “beginner’s guide to buying a private island” might tell us something about what kind of global citizen they’re appealing to).

    “I don’t think we try to shape anyone’s identity at all,” Gillian Tett, the paper’s managing editor for the US, says. “We recognize two things: that the world is more interconnected today than it’s ever been, and that these connections are complex and quite opaque. We think it’s critical to try to illuminate them.”

    For Tett, who has a PhD in social anthropology, money serves as a “neutral, technocratic” starting point through which to understand—and tie together—the world. “Most newspapers today tend to start with an interest in politics or events, and that inevitably leads you to succumb to tribalism, however hard you try [not to],” Tett explains. “If you look at the world through money—how is money going around the world, who’s making and losing it and why?—out of that you lead to political, cultural, foreign-policy stories.”

    Tett’s comments again brought to mind Imagined Communities: Anderson notes that, in 18th-century Caracas, newspapers “began essentially as appendages of the market,” providing commercial news about ships coming in, commodity prices, and colonial appointments, as well as a proto–Vows section for the upper crust to hate-read in their carriages. “The newspaper of Caracas quite naturally, and even apolitically, created an imagined community among a specific assemblage of fellow-readers, to whom these ships, brides, bishops, and prices belonged,” he wrote. “In time, of course, it was only to be expected that political elements would enter in.”

    Yesterday’s aristocracy is today’s passport-buying, globe-trotting one percent. The passport brokers I got to know also pitched clients with the very same promise of “global citizenship” (it sounds less louche than “buy a new passport”)—by taking out ads in the Financial Times. Theirs is exactly the kind of neoliberal “globalism” that nationalist politicians like Trump have won elections denouncing (often hypocritically) as wanting “the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much.” Isn’t upper-crust glibness about borders, boundaries, and the value of national citizenship part of what helped give us this reactionary nativism in the first place?

    “I suspect what’s been going on with Brexit and maybe Trump and other populist movements [is that] people. . . see ‘global’ as a threat to local communities and businesses rather than something to be welcomed,” Tett says. “But if you’re an FT reader, you see it as benign or descriptive.”

    Among the largest news organizations in the world is Reuters, with more than 3,000 journalists and photographers in 120 countries. It is part of Thomson Reuters, a truly global firm. Reuters does not take its mandate lightly: a friend who works there recently sent me a job posting for an editor in Gdynia, which, Google clarified for me, is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland.

    Reuters journalists cover everything from club sports to international tax evasion. They’re outsourcing quick hits about corporate earnings to Bangalore, assembling teams on multiple continents to tackle a big investigation, shedding or shuffling staff under corporate reorganizations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “more than half our business is serving financial customers,” Stephen Adler, the editor in chief, tells me. “That has little to do with what country you’re from. It’s about information: a central-bank action in Europe or Japan may be just as important as everything else.”

    Institutionally, “it’s really important and useful that we don’t have one national HQ,” Adler adds. “That’s the difference between a global news organization and one with a foreign desk. For us, nothing is foreign.” That approach won Reuters this year’s international Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the mass murder of the Rohingya in Myanmar (two of the reporters were imprisoned as a result, and since freed); it also comes through especially sharply in daily financial stories: comprehensive, if dry, compendiums of who-what-where-when-why that recognize the global impact of national stories, and vice versa. A recent roundup of stock movements included references to the US Fed, China trade talks, Brexit, monetary policy around the world, and the price of gold.

    Adler has led the newsroom since 2011, and a lot has changed in the world. (I worked at Reuters between 2011 and 2013, first as Adler’s researcher and later as a reporter; Adler is the chair of CJR’s board.) Shortly after Trump’s election, Adler wrote a memo affirming the organization’s commitment to being fair, honest, and resourceful. He now feels more strongly than ever about judiciously avoiding biases—including national ones. “Our ideology and discipline around putting personal feelings and nationality aside has been really helpful, because when you think about how powerful local feelings are—revolutions, the Arab Spring—we want you writing objectively and dispassionately.”

    The delivery of stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter.

    Whether global stories can push communities to develop transnationally in a meaningful way is a harder question to answer; it seems to impugn our collective aptitude for reacting to problems of a global nature in a rational way. Reuters’s decision not to fetishize Trump hasn’t led to a drop-off in US coverage—its reporters have been especially strong on immigration and trade policy, not to mention the effects of the new administration on the global economy—but its stories aren’t exactly clickbait, which means ordinary Americans might not encounter them at the top of their feed. In other words, having a global perspective doesn’t necessarily translate to more eyeballs.

    What’s more, Reuters doesn’t solve the audience-class problem: whether readers are getting dispatches in partner newspapers like The New York Times or through the organization’s Eikon terminal, they tend to be the sort of person “who does transnational business, travels a good deal, is connected through work and media, has friends in different places, cares about what’s going on in different places,” Adler says. “That’s a pretty large cohort of people who have reason to care what’s going on in other places.”

    There are ways to unite readers without centering coverage on money or the markets. For a generation of readers around the world, the common ground is technology: the internet. “We didn’t pick our audience,” Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed, tells me over the phone. “Our audience picked us.” He defines his readers as a cohort aged 18–35 “who are on the internet and who broadly care about human rights, global politics, and feminism and gay rights in particular.”

    To serve them, BuzzFeed recently published a damning investigative report into the World Wildlife Fund’s arming of militias in natural reserves; a (not uncontroversial) series on Trump’s business dealings abroad; early exposés of China’s detention of Uighur citizens; and reports on child abuse in Australia. Climate—“the central challenge for every newsroom in the world”—has been harder to pin down. “We don’t feel anyone has cracked it. But the shift from abstract scientific [stories] to coverage of fires in California, it’s a huge change—it makes it more concrete,” Smith says. (My husband is a reporter for BuzzFeed.)

    The delivery of these stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter. “The global political financial elites have had a common language ever since it was French,” Smith says. “There is now a universal language of internet culture, [and] that. . . is how our stuff translates so well between cultures and audiences.” This isn’t a form of digital Esperanto, Smith insists; the point isn’t to flatten the differences between countries or regions so much as to serve as a “container” in which people from different regions, interest groups, and cultures can consume media through references they all understand.

    BuzzFeed might not be setting out to shape its readers’ identities (I certainly can’t claim to feel a special bond with other people who found out they were Phoebes from the quiz “Your Sushi Order Will Reveal Which ‘Friends’ Character You’re Most Like”). An audience defined by its youth and its media consumption habits can be difficult to keep up with: platforms come and go, and young people don’t stay young forever. But if Anderson’s thesis still carries water, there must be something to speaking this language across cultures, space, and time. Call it “Web vernacular.”

    In 2013, during one of the many recent and lengthy US government shutdowns, Joshua Keating, a journalist at Slate, began a series, “If It Happened There,” that imagined how the American media would view the shutdown if it were occurring in another country. “The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city,” Keating opens. “Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. . . .But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink.”

    It goes on; you get the idea. Keating’s series, which was inspired by his having to read “many, many headlines from around the world” while working at Foreign Policy, is a clever journalistic illustration of what sociologists call “methodological nationalism”: the bias that gets inadvertently baked into work and words. In the Middle East, it’s sectarian or ethnic strife; in the Midwest, it’s a trigger-happy cop and a kid in a hoodie.

    His send-ups hit a nerve. “It was huge—it was by far the most popular thing I’ve done at Slate,” Keating says. “I don’t think that it was a shocking realization to anyone that this kind of language can be a problem, but sometimes pointing it out can be helpful. If the series did anything, it made people stop and be conscious of how. . . our inherent biases and perspectives will inform how we cover the world.”

    Curiously, living under an openly nationalist administration has changed the way America—or at the very least, a significant part of the American press corps—sees itself. The press is a de facto opposition party, not because it tries to be, but because the administration paints it that way. And that gives reporters the experience of working in a place much more hostile than the US without setting foot outside the country.

    Keating has “semi-retired” the series as a result of the broad awareness among American reporters that it is, in fact, happening here. “It didn’t feel too novel to say [Trump was] acting like a foreign dictator,” he says. “That was what the real news coverage was doing.”

    Keating, who traveled to Somaliland, Kurdistan, and Abkhazia to report his book Invisible Countries (2018), still thinks the fastest and most effective way to form an international perspective is to live abroad. At the same time, not being bound to a strong national identity “can make it hard to understand particular concerns of the people you’re writing about,” he says. It might be obvious, but there is no one perfect way to be internationally minded.

    Alan Rusbridger—the former editor of The Guardian who oversaw the paper’s Edward Snowden coverage and is now the principal at Lady Margaret Hall, a college at Oxford University—recognizes the journalistic and even moral merits of approaching news in a non-national way: “I think of journalism as a public service, and I do think there’s a link between journalism at its best and the betterment of individual lives and societies,” he says. But he doesn’t have an easy formula for how to do that, because truly cosmopolitan journalism requires both top-down editorial philosophies—not using certain phrasings or framings that position foreigners as “others”—and bottom-up efforts by individual writers to read widely and be continuously aware of how their work might be read by people thousands of miles away.

    Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network, but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases.

    Rusbridger sees potential in collaborations across newsrooms, countries, and continents. Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network; but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases. It also wields power. “One of the reasons we reported Snowden with the Times in New York was to use global protections of human rights and free speech and be able to appeal to a global audience of readers and lawyers,” Rusbridger recalls. “We thought, ‘We’re pretty sure nation-states will come at us over this, and the only way to do it is harness ourselves to the US First Amendment not available to us anywhere else.’”

    In employing these tactics, the press positions itself in opposition to the nation-state. The same strategy could be seen behind the rollout of the Panama and Paradise Papers (not to mention the aggressive tax dodging detailed therein). “I think journalists and activists and citizens on the progressive wing of politics are thinking creatively about how global forces can work to their advantage,” Rusbridger says.

    But he thinks it all starts locally, with correspondents who have fluency in the language, culture, and politics of the places they cover, people who are members of the communities they write about. That isn’t a traditional foreign-correspondent experience (nor indeed that of UN employees, NGO workers, or other expats). The silver lining of publishing companies’ shrinking budgets might be that cost cutting pushes newsrooms to draw from local talent, rather than send established writers around. What you gain—a cosmopolitanism that works from the bottom up—can help dispel accusations of media elitism. That’s the first step to creating new imagined communities.

    Anderson’s work has inspired many an academic, but media executives? Not so much. Rob Wijnberg is an exception: he founded the (now beleaguered) Correspondent in the Netherlands in 2013 with Anderson’s ideas in mind. In fact, when we speak, he brings the name up unprompted.

    “You have to transcend this notion that you can understand the world through the national point of view,” he says. “The question is, What replacement do we have for it? Simply saying we have to transcend borders or have an international view isn’t enough, because you have to replace the imagined community you’re leaving behind with another one.”

    For Wijnberg, who was a philosophy student before he became a journalist, this meant radically reinventing the very structures of the news business: avoiding covering “current events” just because they happened, and thinking instead of what we might call eventful currents—the political, social, and economic developments that affect us all. It meant decoupling reporting from national news cycles, and getting readers to become paying “members” instead of relying on advertisements.

    This, he hoped, would help create a readership not based on wealth, class, nationality, or location, but on borderless, universal concerns. “We try to see our members. . . as part of a group or knowledge community, where the thing they share is the knowledge they have about a specific structural subject matter,” be it climate, inequality, or migration, Wijnberg says. “I think democracy and politics answers more to media than the other way around, so if you change the way media covers the world you change a lot.”

    That approach worked well in the Netherlands: his team raised 1.7 million euros in 2013, and grew to include 60,000 members. A few years later, Wijnberg and his colleagues decided to expand into the US, and with the help of NYU’s Jay Rosen, an early supporter, they made it onto Trevor Noah’s Daily Show to pitch their idea.

    The Correspondent raised more than $2.5 million from nearly 50,000 members—a great success, by any measure. But in March, things started to get hairy, with the publication abruptly pulling the plug on opening a US newsroom and announcing that staff would edit stories reported from the US from the original Amsterdam office instead. Many of the reasons behind this are mundane: visas, high rent, relocation costs. And reporters would still be reporting from, and on, the States. But supporters felt blindsided, calling the operation a scam.

    Today, Wijnberg reflects that he should have controlled the messaging better, and not promised to hire and operate from New York until he was certain that he could. He also wonders why it matters.

    “It’s not saying people who think it matters are wrong,” he explains. “But if the whole idea of this kind of geography and why it’s there is a construct, and you’re trying to think about transcending it, the very notion of Where are you based? is secondary. The whole point is not to be based anywhere.”

    Still: “The view from everywhere—the natural opposite—is just as real,” Wijnberg concedes. “You can’t be everywhere. You have to be somewhere.”

    And that’s the rub: for all of nationalism’s ills, it does instill in its subjects what Anderson calls a “deep, horizontal comradeship” that, while imagined, blossoms thanks to a confluence of forces. It can’t be replicated supranationally overnight. The challenge for a cosmopolitan journalism, then, is to dream up new forms of belonging that look forward, not backward—without discarding the imagined communities we have.

    That’s hard; so hard that it more frequently provokes a retrenchment, not an expansion, of solidarity. But it’s not impossible. And our collective futures almost certainly depend on it.

    https://www.cjr.org/special_report/view-from-nowhere.php
    #journalisme #nationalisme #Etat-nation #communauté_nationale #communauté_internationale #frontières #presse #médias

  • #DOAJ (#Directory_of_Open_Access_Journals)

    DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. DOAJ is independent. All funding is via donations, 40% of which comes from sponsors and 60% from members and publisher members. All DOAJ services are free of charge including being indexed in DOAJ. All data is freely available.

    https://doaj.org
    #liste #OA #open_access #édition_scientifique #université #revues #revues_scientifiques

    • List of OA journals in geography, political ecology, anthropology, planning, area studies, and various social sciences

      “…….So things might have happily continued, had not the corporate interests within this limited, subsidised economy pushed journal subscription prices to the point where access to the knowledge went into a state of decline, at a time when new publishing technologies enabled researchers to take publishing back into their own hands. These new technologies have been used to demonstrate how access can be greatly increased, improving the circulation of knowledge, restoring the researcher’s control of knowledge, and extending its value as a public good by making it far more widely available.” Willinsky J. 2003. The Nine Flavours of Open Access Scholarly Publishing . J Postgrad Med 49:263-7.

      Academics write most of their work in journals. Journals should publish and curate good quality work, but unfortunately the majority are also used to make money for commercial publishers. This is not a win-win situation. Corporate profits are frequently high because companies retain author copyrights, and sell the material to (mainly) scholarly and university libraries, that frequently struggle to stock key journals because of the cost. Five companies are now dominating the field, and buying out smaller ones. Financing of this form of scholarly publishing is opaque. Academics do not rock the boat on this very often, because their prestige and careers are linked too much to the journals they publish in, and most of the prestigious ones are commercial and expensive. Our systems of merit and performance measures are not yet geared to rewarding publishing that is ethical, or based on social justice criteria (Cahill and Irving 2015). This is especially bad at research universities. (good ref. here, a depressing study here that shows social scientists in particular don’t care as much about OA as they about the rank of outlets).

      To make some contribution to the debate about whether social scientists can avoid the big commercial, firewalled journals, I list below decent academic journals that are free or cheap to publish in, have proper refereeing, and are Open Access – free for readers. Copyright is retained by the author in most but not quite all of them. Open access journals can also impose substantial fees on authors instead of readers. Those with high fees above cUS$500 for authors are excluded- like most social scientists I don’t have more than this to contribute to a publication and I don’t think more is justified. There is a long debate about whether in our internet world, we should be paying at all, which I won’t get into here.

      The list began with fields my students and I publish in, hence the small number of themes [environment & development, human geography, anthropology, urban studies and planning, area studies, general social science, and the university research/teaching/publication process], but it should be useful as a starting point. Further discussion on journals and open access here. Journals are the main systems of prestige, ranking and hierarchy that we have, much as it would be fairer to ignore them and just publish in the most appropriate venue for the readership. I have included Scopus and its useful impact factor derivative Citescore (released Dec 2016, now called Scopus Sources), Web of Science (formerly ISI) and their newish Emerging Sources Citation Index listings.

      For the majority of my colleagues reading this who have not thought much about OA and publishing ethics (and are manically trying to publish in the best places), I hope you find something you can contribute to. In brief, open access is the best way to publish scholarly material – more readers, and articles under authors’ control. It is a logical outcome of the invention of the web, and the Academic Spring protests of 2012 (analysis, reasons), which have had echoes – eg the Lingua debacle over the resignation of an editorial board that was dissatisfied with Elsevier’s control of copyright and high OA charges, and all the Netherlands universities’ fight with the same company in 2015 about high charges.

      Most of the journals on the list are run by the “community economies” of unpaid academics, university libraries or departments, or scholarly societies, and a few are commercial but still have acceptable author fees that mere mortals could afford (APCs) *. Only if the big publishers are able to offer OA at reasonable fees, is it worth considering publishing an OA article with them. That said, as Sir/Prof. Tim Gowers argues, journals these days exist only to accommodate author prestige – you can publish anything online, or easily just email the author for a copy of an article (or use Researchgate, Academia.edu or Sci-hub). So OA journals need to be as good in quality and meticulous as those conventional ones that are costing our libraries a fortune. I hope I only list good ones here.

      The invention of the web and its rollout in the early 1990s spelled the end of the need for conventional firewalled journals. Printed copies are no longer required (although they may be desired by a few) and the culture among scholars has changed to storing individual article PDFs and only printing them if needed. There are few costs for hosting a journal online – storing its files is easy. Costs, or value, are all in the labour. To suggest there are major cost implications of OA is not true, unless professional editors or translators are used. If publishing is done largely by academics and their institutions, which is my hope, the cost of running journals is absorbed into regular workloads or taken up by grants, and we have a true change in publishing underway. “The commitment of scholars everywhere to finding new ways of improving access to knowledge” (Willinsky 2003) need not be commercialised or costly. The ‘big five’ publishers (who now control 66% of papers in social sciences in the WoS, and rising…) and some of the smaller ones will have to adapt or perish (but they do produce indexing, which is useful for now). We will have our copyrights and a larger potential readership, and university libraries will have more money to spend. We will also be able to support smaller and multilingual world periphery journals.

      Useful sites

      DOAJ if your journal isn’t on here, a curated list of proper OA journals, not good. However in 2016 they did some housecleaning, but it was pretty poorly done so many legit. journals complained about being missed off. This now (2017) seems to be rectified.
      A campaign to alert you to dodgy publishers, because there are some http://thinkchecksubmit.org.
      A listing of academic articles on radical OA http://radicaloa.disruptivemedia.org.uk/resources/radical-open-access-literature
      A video about OA https://youtu.be/L5rVH1KGBCY


      Paywall (2018) the movie https://paywallthemovie.com – free and recommended.
      Open Access Chronicle http://paper.li/jimtill/1309217562
      Beall’s List, Original site was removed in Jan ’17 – possibly the author was threatened with litigation in some way. (now archived and updated https://beallslist.weebly.com). Crappy journals designed to make money, and allowing substandard work, (were) identified and weeded out. Beall, now retired, did focus on the negatives of OA, was criticised for libertarian views supporting free enterprise but only for the conventional, subscription-based publishing establishment. And it must be said, he held a very embarrassing conspiracy theory about all OA publishing!
      QOAM Quality Open Access Market. Crowd-sourced assessment of OA journals. Evolving. List of journals and publishers is useful. http://www.qoam.eu
      Francophone journals list (geography) http://www.openedition.org/catalogue-journals?searchdomain=catalogue-journals&q=geography
      All Australian university-run journals https://aoasg.org.au/australian-oa-journals
      Useful journal list in the environmental field, not all free http://www.esf.edu/es/sonnenfeld/envsoc_journals.htm
      JURN – good and updated list of OA journals, edited and searchable. Site down 2019 try here for a pdf instead http://www.jurn.org/directory
      ESOP young academics list of OA planning journals https://aesopyoungacademics.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/open-access-week-planext-and-a-list-of-oa-journals
      List of online anthropology journals http://www.antropologi.info/links/Main/Journals
      INASP It funds Nepal Journals Online (most with credible academic status), Bangladesh Journals Online (BanglaJOL), Philippines Journals Online (PhilJOL) and Sri Lanka Journals Online (SLJOL), (and other countries). For Africa see www.ajol.info. Not all of these are good though; if I find good ones there I will place them below. For Eastern Europe see https://www.ceeol.com
      Latin America journal listing (til 2015) http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/journals
      Impact of the social sciences – a useful LSE project with some actual data.
      Giant list by Jan Szczepanski, 9mb word file! Not all are cheap or taking english articles. https://www.ebsco.com/open-access/szczepanski-list
      Radical Open Access conference, June 2015, Coventry http://radicalopenaccess.disruptivemedia.org.uk/videos
      Walt Crawford writes more about OA publishing than anybody else- even book length manuscripts interrogating the DOAJ database. He shows reputable free OA journals are predominant – only a minority have high APCs.

      https://simonbatterbury.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/list-of-decent-open-access-journals

  • The European benchmark for refugee integration: A comparative analysis of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism in 14 EU countries

    The report presents a comparative, indicator-based assessment of the refugee integration frameworks in place in 14 countries: Czechia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

    Conclusions cover the full range of integration dimensions, such as housing, employment, education and aspects of legal integration, and refer to recognized refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.

    Legal and policy indicators are the focus of analysis, as well as indicators on mainstreaming, coordination and efforts to involve refugees and locals.

    Results are presented in terms of concrete steps that policymakers need to take in order to establish a refugee integration framework in line with the standards required by international and EU law.


    http://www.ismu.org/en/the-european-benchmark-for-refugee-integration-a-comparative-analysis-of-the-n

    #rapport #intégration #France #Grèce #République_Tchèque #Hongrie #Italie #Lettonie #Lituanie #Pays-Bas #Pologne #Portugal #Roumanie #Slovénie #Espagne #Suède #réfugiés #migrations #asile #regroupement_familial #citoyenneté #logement #hébergement #emploi #travail #intégration_professionnelle #éducation #santé #sécurité_sociale
    ping @karine4

    • SpaceX anticipates launching thousands of satellites — creating a mega-constellation of false stars collectively called Starlink that will connect the entire planet to the internet, and introduce a new line of business for the private spaceflight company.

      (...)

      “This has the potential to change what a natural sky looks like,” said Tyler Nordgren, an astronomer

  • Bij hoogleraar B. moesten de vrouwen hakken dragen

    Onderzoek machtsmisbruik en wangedrag Een hoogleraar werd een half jaar geleden gedwongen te vertrekken bij de UvA. Wat speelde er de afgelopen jaren bij de sectie arbeidsrecht? Zijn bijnaam was ‘Een acht voor een nacht’.

    https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2019/05/14/bij-hoogleraar-b-moesten-de-vrouwen-hakken-dragen-a3960238

    #harcèlement_sexuel #violences_sexuelles #université #Pays-Bas #Amsterdam #Université_d'Amsterdam #UvA #impunité #sexisme #Prof_B

    Avec ce commentaire reçu par email :

    NRC est le quotidien du soir (plutôt de droite) qui a fait une enquête. Le type a dû démissionner mais pas de procédure formelle.
    Il a fait un procès pour que le journal ne publie pas son nom et le juge lui a donné raison (la presse ici ne publie que les initiales dans les affaires juridiques). Ils ont mis le titre d’un de ses articles donc l’est facile à retrouver.

    Et aussi reçu par email :

    Everybody, and I mean absolutely everbody, must read it!!!!

    I knew that much was wrong at the UvA, but this goes beyond what even I could imagine. If you read this story, you can label as pure cynicism everything the CvB has said in recent years about the importance of diversity, and taking discrimination and abuse of power seriously. With this article, the hypocrisy of the whole system blows up in our face, including how the top-down hierarchy feeds abuse of power and contributes to a culture in which the powerful are always protected, regardless of their behavior.

    It is UvA’s Weinstein case, and we should all treat it as such.

    Our current CvB has done NOTHING in reaction to this case. They did not properly inform the academic community. WE STILL DON’T KNOW HOW MANY WOMEN WERE HARMED AND EXACTLY IN WHAT WAY! WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPEND TO THESE WOMEN AFTERWARDS. They did not demand further investigation into how it was possible that such things could happen for more than 15 years (see last quote).

    They reacted to the recent reports about abuse of power at Dutch universties by simply pointing to our “Vertrouwenspersonen”.

    They did not include anything about complaint procedures in the latest policy papers on diversity.

    The conclusion of this piece about the UvA can only be: Nobody who is abused, humiliated, discriminated against or sexually or otherwise harassed can count on the University of Amsterdam for any kind of protection.

    It is all so utterly ridiculous and depressing.

    Edgar du Perron, who was our hope in 2015, who had the trust of the whole academic community, also contributed to keeping these things under the carpet. Edgar du Perron. If he is part of a system of abuse, we need much more then committees and demonstrations to end it.

    What do people of colour have to endure, if this is normalized behavior towards white women?

    Here are some quotes from the piece that I have translated into English. Enjoy!

    "Women must wear high heels, have long and painted fingernails, B. thinks. To colleagues without make-up he says: “Are you sick?” or “Don’t be so boring. Or are you pregnant?”

    To female colleagues he has said:

    “You should do position 69 some time” (Dutch: “Je zou het eens op z’n Frans doen.”

    “I jerked off above you.”

    “Among students B. had the nickname ’An eight for a night’”

    “A number of colleagues receive porn images and films from him. It leads to unease and tense relationships with some female colleagues who don’t know what to do any more. A complaint about indesirable behaviour toward a male superior leads nowhere.”

    "A female colleague who reports that B. had groped beneath her clothes in her pubic area is not taken seriously by the executives among whom Verhulp. The university physician (bedrijfsarts) and the UvA head of HR are not impressed, either. “It’s your word against his”, they tell her."

    "There is a low willingness to file a complaint among other female colleagues. The fear of B. is simply too big. “I rather quit myself than file a complaint against him”, one of them says."

    “Even the knowledge that B. sends porn pictures to men and women does not incite the superiors who do know about it to take action. This is why they don’t discover that he also spreads audiovisual material of him in an aroused state. The individuals receiving the material sometimes suspect that they are not the only ones, but don’t talk about it. Fear and shame prevail, sometimes because they have fallen for his advances (in the past).”

    “His behavior at the UvA but also at conferences inside and outside the Netherlands leads to a continuous stream of rumors, reaching also the receptions (borrels) of the board of directors of the UvA. But only extremely rarely does anybody call B. to order, not even if somebody has complained. Regardless if the dean or the head of department is called Paul van der Heijden, Jit Peters or Edgar du Perron; no executive calls B. into his office to talk to him about his behavior. Let alone start an investigation.”

    “On wednesday, October 31, the UvA receives the final report. The conclusion: B. is guilty of transgressive behavior en because of him there was a unsafe working climate for a long time. But an army of lawyers of the UvA and of the external partners Boontje Advocaten don’t see the ultimate proof to fire B. immediately.”

    “The university and B. quickly agree that the name of the professor will not appear in the communication of the UvA about his departure. This causes a lot of irritation among many concerned persons. This irritation increases in the following months when it becomes clear that the university does not try to get in touch with former executives or other persons involved in order to learn from the past.”

    • Témoignage d’une enseignante-chercheuse à l’Université d’Amsterdam...
      Elle raconte son expérience. C’était 2013. Elle ne parle que maintenant.
      Et elle accuse l’institution, l’UvA de ne l’avoir pas mise en condition d’en parler, de dénoncer :

      So there’s been a lot of talk at my institution recently about harassment and the lack of response from the institution

      Le thread, que je copie-colle, on ne sait jamais :

      There is now much collective hand ringing, promises of more robust complaints procedures, and we are being urged to report incidents.
      They will be taken seriously. We are told.
      I have never spoken about what happened to me, I am embarrassed about it. Ashamed. It isn’t really that bad I tell myself. It is part of the job I tell myself. I should be able to handle it.
      This is what happened to me and why I am not convinced about the promises of my institution for change. This is my story. My story involves a student.
      It is the end of my first year on a tenure-track job. It is July 2013. We have moved countries and I am happy to finally have a permanent tenure-track job that pays enough to live.
      I am succeeding in academia.
      The only training I have ever received was at my previous UK university where we were always told to never close the door of your office.
      However people seem to do things differently here. There seems to be more of a culture that the students and faculty are equals. We are all adults and can you know sort stuff out. Have a coffee, a chat, reach a compromise.
      It is the end of my first year of my new job. My fourth year of supervising MA dissertations. This is not my first rodeo, I know what I am doing.
      I have one student who has struggled throughout. I have done more than I should. I have given him a question, an outline, a literature review. I have refined his project.
      I think this is what I am supposed to do, rather than say this student is not good enough I feel it is my responsibility to carry him over the line.
      Throughout the process the student has sought my attention for the smallest thing, sending email after email with irrelevant and often intimate information.
      I tell myself this is normal. How things are done here. People are open. They share. This is part of my pastoral role. My colleagues seem very involved with their students too.
      The student hands in his thesis. It is not good enough to pass. I am not surprised by this. The student has the chance to re-write over the summer.
      I invite the student to my office to explain that he has not passed and that he has the possibility to re-write. I am handing him a lifeline. I am saving him and his MA. I think.
      I carefully go through what he has to do to make the thesis passable.
      But I have to tell the student that he cannot have the same amount of input from me.
      The re-write is supposed to be unsupervised and anyway we are going on the first holiday we have had in three years. It is the summer.
      The student gets angry. He blames me. He says it is my fault. He says I haven’t supervised him properly.
      My immediate desire is to do what women are conditioned to do and to make myself small. Make the raised angry voice stop. To please.
      However my sense of professional respect kicks in and I try to calmly explain to the student what the role of a supervisor is.
      I tell him an MA thesis is an independent piece of work. That I have already done more than I should to get him this far.
      The student pushes back, getting angrier and angrier, growing larger and larger, redder and redder, sitting across my desk from me.
      I then say something that I have for years berated myself for saying although I also now know this is what I am conditioned to do, blame myself.
      To try and get my point across about the role of a supervisor I tell this student my job is not to be his mother.
      At this he leaps from his chair and starts screaming down at me that I am his mother. “You are my mother! That is your job! Your job is to be my mother!”
      Over and over again. “You are my mother! That is your job! Your job is to be my mother!”
      “You are my mother! That is your job! Your job is to be my mother!”
      He stands there bellowing down at me sat in my chair. 1.90m tall and 100kg. I ask him to leave.
      “If you are going to behave like this and shout at me I would ask you to leave” I manage to say.

      https://twitter.com/PollyWilkins/status/1134043467863265280?s=19

    • European Border and Coast Guard: Launch of first ever joint operation outside the EU

      Today, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in cooperation with the Albanian authorities, is launching the first ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country. As of 22 May, teams from the Agency will be deployed together with Albanian border guards at the Greek-Albanian border to strengthen border management and enhance security at the EU’s external borders, in full agreement with all concerned countries. This operation marks a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and its Western Balkan partners, and is yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency.

      The launch event is taking place in Tirana, Albania, in the presence of Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Edi Rama, Albanian Prime Minister and Sandër Lleshaj, Albanian Interior Minister.

      Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: "With the first ever deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams outside of the EU, we are opening an entirely new chapter in our cooperation on migration and border management with Albania and with the whole Western Balkan region. This is a real game changer and a truly historical step, bringing this region closer to the EU by working together in a coordinated and mutually supportive way on shared challenges such as better managing migration and protecting our common borders.”

      Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said: “Today we mark a milestone for our agency and the wider cooperation between the European Union and Albania. We are launching the first fully fledged joint operation outside the European Union to support Albania in border control and tackling cross-border crime.”

      While Albania remains ultimately responsible for the protection of its borders, the European Border and Coast Guard is able to lend both technical and operational support and assistance. The European Border and Coast Guard teams will be able to support the Albanian border guards in performing border checks at crossing points, for example, and preventing unauthorised entries. All operations and deployments at the Albanian border with Greece will be conducted in full agreement with both the Albanian and Greek authorities.

      At the start of the operation, the Agency will be deploying 50 officers, 16 patrol cars and 1 thermo-vision van from 12 EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Slovenia) to support Albania in border control and tackling cross-border crime.

      Strengthened cooperation between priority third countries and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will contribute to the better management of irregular migration, further enhance security at the EU’s external borders and strengthen the Agency’s ability to act in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, while bringing that neighbourhood closer to the EU.

      http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-2591_en.htm
      #externalisation

    • Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos in Albania at the official launch of first ever joint operation outside the EU

      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      We are here today to celebrate an important achievement and a milestone, both for Albania and for the EU.

      Only six months ago, here in Tirana, the EU signed the status agreement with Albania on cooperation on border management between Albania and the European Border and Coast Guard. This agreement, that entered into force three weeks ago, was the first agreement ever of its kind with a neighbouring country.

      Today, we will send off the joint European Border and Coast Guard Teams to be deployed as of tomorrow for the first time in a non-EU Member State. This does not only mark a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and Western Balkan partners, it is also yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency.

      The only way to effectively address migration and security challenges we are facing today and those we may be confronted with in the years to come is by working closer together, as neighbours and as partners. What happens in Albania and the Western Balkans affects the European Union, and the other way around.

      Joint approach to border management is a key part of our overall approach to managing migration. It allows us to show to our citizens that their security is at the top of our concerns. But effective partnership in ensuring orderly migration also enables us, as Europe, to remain a place where those in need of protection can find shelter.

      Albania is the first country in the Western Balkans with whom the EU is moving forward with this new important chapter in our joint co-operation on border management.

      This can be a source of pride for both Albania and the EU and an important step that brings us closer together.

      While the overall situation along the Western Balkans route remains stable with continuously low levels of arrivals - it is in fact like night and day when compared to three years ago - we need to remain vigilant.

      The Status Agreement will help us in this effort. It expands the scale of practical, operational cooperation between the EU and Albania and hopefully soon with the rest of the Western Balkan region.

      These are important elements of our co-operation, also in view of the continued implementation of the requirements under the visa liberalisation agreement. Visa-free travel is a great achievement, which brings benefits to all sides and should be safeguarded.

      Together with Albanian border guards, European Border and Coast Guard teams will be able to perform border checks at crossing points and perform border surveillance to prevent unauthorized border crossings and counter cross-border criminality.

      But, let me be clear, Albania remains ultimately responsible for the protection of its borders. European Border and Coast Guard Teams may only perform tasks and exercise powers in the Albanian territory under instructions from and, as a general rule, in the presence of border guards of the Republic of Albania.

      Dear Friends,

      When it comes to protecting our borders, ensuring our security and managing migration, the challenges we face are common, and so must be our response.

      The European Border and Coast Guard Status Agreement and its implementation will allow us to better work together in all these areas. I hope that these agreements can be finalised also with other Western Balkans partners as soon as possible.

      I wish to thank Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Albanian authorities, and the Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Fabrice Leggeri and his team for their close cooperation in bringing this milestone achievement to life. I also want to thank all Member States who have contributed with staff and the personnel who will be part of this first deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams in a neighbouring country.

      With just a few days to go before the European Elections, the need for a more united and stronger European family is more important than ever. We firmly believe that a key priority is to have strong relations with close neighbours, based on a clear balance of rights and obligations – but above all, on genuine partnership. This includes you, fellow Albanians.

      Albania is part of the European family.Our challenges are common. They know no borders. The progress we are witnessing today is another concrete action and proof of our commitment to bring us closer together. To make us stronger.

      http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-19-2668_en.htm

    • Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU and deploys to Albania

      The EU has taken a significant, if geographically small, step in the externalisation of its borders. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has launched its first Joint Operation on the territory of a non-EU-Member State, as it begins cooperation with Albania on the border with Greece.

      After the launch of the operation in Tirana on 21 May a deployment of 50 officers, 16 patrol cars and a thermo-vision van started yesterday, 22 May (European Commission, link). Twelve Member States (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Slovenia) have contributed to the operation.

      New agreements

      The move follows the entry into force on 1 May this year of a Status Agreement between the EU and Albania on actions carried out by Frontex in that country (pdf). Those actions are made possible by the conclusion of operational plans, which must be agreed between Frontex and the Albanian authorities.

      The Status Agreement with Albania was the first among several similar agreements to be signed between the Agency and Balkan States, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia.

      The nascent operation in Albania will give Frontex team members certain powers, privileges and immunities on Albanian territory, including the use of force in circumstances authorised by Albanian border police and outlined in the operational plan.

      Frontex does not publish operational plans whilst operations (which can be renewed indefinitely) are ongoing, and documents published after the conclusion of operations (usually in response to requests for access to documents) are often heavily-redacted (Ask the EU, link).

      Relevant articles

      Article 4 of the Status Agreement outlines the tasks and powers of members of Frontex teams operating in Albanian territory. This includes the use of force, if it is authorised by both the Frontex team member’s home Member State and the State of Albania, and takes place in the presence of Albanian border guards. However, Albania can authorise team members to use force in their absence.

      Article 6 of the Status Agreement grants Frontex team members immunity from Albanian criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction “in respect of the acts performed in the exercise of their official functions in the course of the actions carried out in accordance with the operational plan”.

      Although a representative of Albania would be informed in the event of an allegation of criminal activity, it would be up to Frontex’s executive director to certify to the court whether the actions in question were performed as part of an official Agency function and in accordance with the Operational Plan. This certification will be binding on the jurisdiction of Albania. Proceedings may only continue against an individual team member if the executive director confirms that their actions were outside the scope of the exercise of official functions.

      Given the closed nature of the operational plans, this grants the executive director wide discretion and ensures little oversight of the accountability of Agency team members. Notably, Article 6 also states that members of teams shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses. This immunity does not, however, extend to the jurisdiction of team members’ home Member States, and they may also waive the immunity of the individual under Albanian jurisdiction.

      Right to redress

      These measures of immunity alongside the lack of transparency surrounding documents outlining team members’ official functions and activities (the operational plan) raise concerns regarding access to redress for victims of human rights violations that may occur during operations.

      Human rights organisations have denounced the use of force by Frontex team members, only to have those incidents classified by the Agency as par for the course in their operations. Cases include incidents of firearm use that resulted in serious injury (The Intercept, link), but that was considered to have taken place according to the standard rules of engagement. This opacity has implications for individuals’ right to good administration and to the proper functioning of accountability mechanisms.

      If any damage results from actions that were carried out according to the operational plan, Albania will be held liable. This is the most binding liability outlined by the Status Agreement. Albania may only “request” that compensation be paid by the Member State of the team member responsible, or by the Agency, if acts were committed through gross negligence, wilful misconduct or outside the scope of the official functions of the Agency team or staff member.

      Across the board

      The provisions regarding tasks, powers and immunity in the Status Agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia are all broadly similar, with the exception of Article 6 of the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This states:

      “Members of the team who are witnesses may be obliged by the competent authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina… to provide evidence in accordance with the procedural law of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

      The Status Agreement with Serbia, an early draft of which did not grant immunity to team members, is now consistent with the Agreement with Albania and includes provisions stating that members of teams shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses.

      It includes a further provision that:

      “...members of the team may use weapons only when it is absolutely necessary in self-defence to repel an immediate life-threatening attack against themselves or another person, in accordance with the national legislation of the Republic of Serbia”.

      http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/may/fx-albania-launch.htm

    • La police des frontières extérieures de l’UE s’introduit en Albanie

      Frontex, l’agence chargée des frontières extérieures de l’Union européenne, a lancé mardi en Albanie sa première opération hors du territoire d’un de ses États membres.

      Cette annonce de la Commission européenne intervient quelques jours avant les élections européennes et au moment où la politique migratoire de l’UE est critiquée par les candidats souverainistes, comme le ministre italien de l’Intérieur Matteo Salvini ou le chef de file de la liste française d’extrême droite, Jordan Bardella, qui a récemment qualifié Frontex d’« hôtesse d’accueil pour migrants ».

      Cette opération conjointe en Albanie est « une véritable étape historique rapprochant » les Balkans de l’UE, et témoigne d’une « meilleure gestion de la migration et de la protection de nos frontières communes », a commenté à Tirana le commissaire chargé des migrations, Dimitris Avramopoulos.

      L’Albanie espère convaincre les États membres d’ouvrir des négociations d’adhésion ce printemps, ce qui lui avait été refusé l’an passé. Son premier ministre Edi Rama a salué « un pas très important dans les relations entre l’Albanie et l’Union européenne » et a estimé qu’il « renforçait également la coopération dans le domaine de la sécurité ».

      À partir de 22 mai, Frontex déploiera des équipes conjointes à la frontière grecque avec des agents albanais.

      La Commission européenne a passé des accords semblables avec la Macédoine du Nord, la Serbie, le Monténégro et la Bosnie-Herzégovine, qui devraient également entrer en vigueur.

      Tous ces pays sont sur une des « routes des Balkans », qui sont toujours empruntées clandestinement par des milliers de personnes en route vers l’Union européenne, même si le flux n’est en rien comparable avec les centaines de milliers de migrants qui ont transité par la région en quelques mois jusqu’à la fermeture des frontières par les pays de l’UE début 2016.

      Ce type d’accord « contribuera à l’amélioration de la gestion de la migration clandestine, renforcera la sécurité aux frontières extérieures de l’UE et consolidera la capacité de l’agence à agir dans le voisinage immédiat de l’UE, tout en rapprochant de l’UE les pays voisins concernés », selon un communiqué de la Commission.

      Pour éviter de revivre le chaos de 2015, l’Union a acté un renforcement considérable de Frontex. Elle disposera notamment d’ici 2027 d’un contingent de 10 000 garde-frontières et garde-côtes pour aider des pays débordés.


      https://www.lapresse.ca/international/europe/201905/21/01-5226931-la-police-des-frontieres-exterieures-de-lue-sintroduit-en-albani

    • European Border and Coast Guard Agency began to patrol alongside the Albanian-Greek border in late May (https://www.bilten.org/?p=28118). Similar agreements have recently been concluded with Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina but Albania is the first country to start implementing programs aimed at blocking refugees entering the EU. Bilten states that Frontex employees can carry arms and fight “against any kind of crime, from” illegal migration “to theft of a car or drug trafficking”. Frontex’s mission is not time-bound, i.e. it depends on the EU’s need. The Albanian authorities see it as a step forward to their membership in the Union.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa dobrodosli, le 10.06.2019

      L’article original:
      Što Frontex radi u Albaniji?

      Nakon što je Europska unija službeno zatvorila “balkansku migrantsku rutu”, očajni ljudi počeli su tražiti nove puteve. Jedan od njih prolazi kroz Albaniju, a tamošnja se vlada odrekla kontrole nad vlastitom granicom u nadi da će time udobrovoljiti unijske dužnosnike.

      Agencija za europsku graničnu i obalnu stražu, Frontex, počela je krajem prošlog mjeseca patrolirati uz albansko-grčku granicu. Već prvog dana, raspoređeno je pedesetak policajaca iz različitih zemalja članica EU koji bi se u suradnji s albanskim graničarima trebali boriti protiv “ilegalne migracije”. Iako je slične dogovore Unija nedavno sklopila sa zemljama poput Srbije, Sjeverne Makedonije, Crne Gore te Bosne i Hercegovine – a sve s ciljem blokiranja mogućnosti izbjeglica da uđu na područje EU – Albanija je prva zemlja u kojoj je počela provedba tog programa. Zaposlenici Frontexa ne samo da smiju nositi oružje, već imaju i dozvolu da se bore protiv bilo koje vrste kriminala, od “ilegalnih migracija” do krađe automobila ili trgovine drogom. Također, njihova misija nije vremenski ograničena, što znači da će Frontexovi zaposlenici patrolirati s albanske strane granice dok god to Unija smatra potrebnim.

      Unatoč nekim marginalnim glasovima koji su se žalili zbog kršenja nacionalne suverenosti prepuštanjem kontrole nad granicom stranim trupama, javnost je reagirala bilo potpunom nezainteresiranošću ili čak blagom potporom sporazumu koji bi tobože trebao pomoći Albaniji da uđe u Europsku uniju. S puno entuzijazma, lokalni su se mediji hvalili kako su u prva četiri dana Frontexovi zaposlenici već ulovili 92 “ilegalna migranta”. No to nije prvo, a ni najozbiljnije predavanje kontrole nad granicom koje je poduzela albanska vlada. Još od kasnih 1990-ih i ranih 2000-ih jadranskim i jonskim teritorijalnim vodama Republike Albanije patrolira talijanska Guardia di Finanza. Tih se godina albanska obala često koristila kao most prema Italiji preko kojeg je prelazila većina migranata azijskog porijekla, ne samo zbog blizine južne Italije, već i zbog slabosti državnih aparata tijekom goleme krize 1997. i 1998. godine.

      Helikopteri Guardije di Finanza također kontroliraju albansko nebo u potrazi za poljima kanabisa i to sve u suradnji s lokalnom državnom birokracijom koja je sama dijelom suradnica dilera, a dijelom nesposobna da im se suprotstavi. No posljednjih godina, zbog toga što su druge rute zatvorene, sve veći broj ljudi počeo se kretati iz Grčke preko Albanije, Crne Gore i BiH prema zemljama EU. Prema Međunarodnoj organizaciji za migracije, granicu je prešlo oko 18 tisuća ljudi, uglavnom iz Sirije, Pakistana i Iraka. To predstavlja povećanje od sedam puta u odnosu na godinu ranije. Tek manji dio tih ljudi je ulovljen zbog nedostatka kapaciteta granične kontrole ili pak potpune indiferencije prema ljudima kojima siromašna zemlja poput Albanije nikada neće biti destinacija.
      Tranzitna zemlja

      Oni koje ulove smješteni su u prihvatnom centru blizu Tirane, ali odatle im je relativno jednostavno pobjeći i nastaviti put dalje. Dio njih službeno je zatražio azil u Albaniji, ali to ne znači da će se dulje zadržati u zemlji. Ipak, očekuje se da će ubuduće albanske institucije biti znatno agresivnije u politici repatrijacije migranata. U tome će se susretati s brojnim pravnim i administrativnim problemima: kako objašnjavaju lokalni stručnjaci za migracije, Albanija sa zemljama iz kojih dolazi većina migranata – poput Sirije, Pakistana, Iraka i Afganistana – uopće nema diplomatske odnose niti pravne predstavnike u tim zemljama. Zbog toga je koordiniranje procesa repatrijacije gotovo nemoguće. Također, iako sporazum o repatrijaciji postoji s Grčkoj, njime je predviđeno da se u tu zemlju vraćaju samo oni za koje se može dokazati da su iz nje došli, a većina migranata koji dođu iz Grčke nastoji sakriti svaki trag svog boravka u toj zemlji.

      U takvoj situaciji, čini se izvjesnim da će Albanija biti zemlja u kojoj će sve veći broj ljudi zapeti na neodređeno vrijeme. Prije nekih godinu i pol dana, izbila je javna panika s dosta rasističkih tonova. Nakon jednog nespretnog intervjua vladinog dužnosnika njemačkom mediju proširile su se glasine da će se u Albaniju naseliti šesto tisuća Sirijaca. Brojka je već na prvi pogled astronomska s obzirom na to da je stanovništvo zemlje oko tri milijuna ljudi, ali teorije zavjere se obično šire kao požar. Neki od drugorazrednih političara čak su pozvali na oružanu borbu ako dođu Sirijci. No ta je panika zapravo brzo prošla, ali tek nakon što je vlada obećala da neće primiti više izbjeglica od onog broja koji bude određen raspodjelom prema dogovoru u Uniji. Otad zapravo nema nekog osobitog antimigrantskog raspoloženja u javnosti, unatoč tome što tisuće ljudi prolazi kroz zemlju.
      Europski san

      Odnos je uglavnom onaj indiferencije. Tome pridonosi nekoliko stvari: činjenica da je gotovo trećina stanovništva Albanije također odselila u zemlje Unije,1 zatim to što ne postoje neke vjerske i ultranacionalističke stranke, ali najviše to što nitko od migranata nema nikakvu namjeru ostati u zemlji. No zašto je albanska vlada tako nestrpljiva da preda kontrolu granice i suverenitet, odnosno zašto je premijer Edi Rama izgledao tako entuzijastično prilikom ceremonije s Dimitrisom Avramopulosom, europskim povjerenikom za migracije, unutrašnje poslove i državljanstvo? Vlada se nada da će to ubrzati njezin put prema članstvu u Europskoj uniji. Posljednjih pet godina provela je čekajući otvaranje pristupnih pregovora, a predavanje kontrole nad granicom vidi kao još jednu ilustraciju svoje pripadnosti Uniji.

      S druge strane, stalna politička kriza koju su izazvali studentski protesti u prosincu 2018., te kasnije bojkot parlamenta i lokalnih izbora od strane opozicijskih stranaka, stavlja neprestani pritisak na vladu. Očajnički treba pozitivan znak iz EU jer vodi političku i ideološku borbu protiv opozicije oko toga tko je autentičniji kulturni i politički predstavnik europejstva. Vlada naziva opoziciju i njezine nasilne prosvjede antieuropskima, dok opozicija optužuje vladu da svojom korupcijom i povezanošću s organiziranim kriminalom radi protiv europskih želja stanovništva. Prije nekoliko dana, Komisija je predložila početak pristupnih pregovora s Albanijom, no Europsko vijeće je to koje ima zadnju riječ. Očekuje se kako će sve ovisiti o toj odluci. Ideja Europe jedno je od čvorišta vladajuće ideologije koja se desetljećima gradi kao antipod komunizmu i Orijentu te historijska destinacija kojoj Albanci stoljećima teže.

      Neoliberalna rekonstrukcija ekonomije i društva gotovo je uvijek legitimirana tvrdnjama kako su to nužni – iako bolni – koraci prema integraciji u Europsku uniju. Uspješnost ove ideologije ilustrira činjenica da otprilike 90% ispitanih u različitim studijama podržava Albansku integraciju u EU. U toj situaciji ne čudi ni odnos prema Frontexu.

      https://www.bilten.org/?p=28118

  • Refugee, volunteer, prisoner: #Sarah_Mardini and Europe’s hardening line on migration

    Early last August, Sarah Mardini sat on a balcony on the Greek island of Lesvos. As the sun started to fade, a summer breeze rose off the Aegean Sea. She leaned back in her chair and relaxed, while the Turkish coastline, only 16 kilometres away, formed a silhouette behind her.

    Three years before, Mardini had arrived on this island from Syria – a dramatic journey that made international headlines. Now she was volunteering her time helping other refugees. She didn’t know it yet, but in a few weeks that work would land her in prison.

    Mardini had crossed the narrow stretch of water from Turkey in August 2015, landing on Lesvos after fleeing her home in Damascus to escape the Syrian civil war. On the way, she almost drowned when the engine of the inflatable dinghy she was travelling in broke down.

    More than 800,000 people followed a similar route from the Turkish coast to the Greek Islands that year. Almost 800 of them are now dead or missing.

    As the boat Mardini was in pitched and spun, she slipped overboard and struggled to hold it steady in the violent waves. Her sister, Yusra, three years younger, soon joined. Both girls were swimmers, and their act of heroism likely saved the 18 other people on board. They eventually made it to Germany and received asylum. Yusra went on to compete in the 2016 Olympics for the first ever Refugee Olympic Team. Sarah, held back from swimming by an injury, returned to Lesvos to help other refugees.

    On the balcony, Mardini, 23, was enjoying a rare moment of respite from long days spent working in the squalid Moria refugee camp. For the first time in a long time, she was looking forward to the future. After years spent between Lesvos and Berlin, she had decided to return to her university studies in Germany.

    But when she went to the airport to leave, shortly after The New Humanitarian visited her, Mardini was arrested. Along with several other volunteers from Emergency Response Centre International, or ERCI, the Greek non-profit where she volunteered, Mardini was charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, people smuggling, money laundering, and espionage.

    According to watchdog groups, the case against Mardini is not an isolated incident. Amnesty International says it is part of a broader trend of European governments taking a harder line on immigration and using anti-smuggling laws to de-legitimise humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants.

    Far-right Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini recently pushed through legislation that ends humanitarian protection for migrants and asylum seekers, while Italy and Greece have ramped up pressure on maritime search and rescue NGOs, forcing them to shutter operations. At the end of March, the EU ended naval patrols in the Mediterranean that had saved the lives of thousands of migrants.

    In 2016, five other international volunteers were arrested on Lesvos on similar charges to Mardini. They were eventually acquitted, but dozens of other cases across Europe fit a similar pattern: from Denmark to France, people have been arrested, charged, and sometimes successfully prosecuted under anti-smuggling regulations based on actions they took to assist migrants.

    Late last month, Salam Kamal-Aldeen, a Danish national who founded the rescue non-governmental organisation Team Humanity, filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights, challenging what he says is a Greek crackdown on lifesaving activities.

    According to Maria Serrano, senior campaigner on migration at Amnesty International, collectively the cases have done tremendous damage in terms of public perception of humanitarian work in Europe. “The atmosphere… is very hostile for anyone that is trying to help, and this [has a] chilling effect on other people that want to help,” she said.

    As for the case against Mardini and the other ERCI volunteers, Human Rights Watch concluded that the accusations are baseless. “It seems like a bad joke, and a scary one as well because of what the implications are for humanitarian activists and NGOs just trying to save people’s lives,” said Bill Van Esveld, who researched the case for HRW.

    While the Lesvos prosecutor could not be reached for comment, the Greek police said in a statement after Mardini’s arrest that she and other aid workers were “active in the systematic facilitation of illegal entrance of foreigners” – a violation of the country’s Migration Code.

    Mardini spent 108 days in pre-trial detention before being released on bail at the beginning of December. The case against her is still open. Her lawyer expects news on what will happen next in June or July. If convicted, Mardini could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

    “It seems like a bad joke, and a scary one as well because of what the implications are for humanitarian activists and NGOs just trying to save people’s lives.”

    Return to Lesvos

    The arrest and pending trial are the latest in a series of events, starting with the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011, that have disrupted any sense of normalcy in Mardini’s life.

    Even after making it to Germany in 2015, Mardini never really settled in. She was 20 years old and in an unfamiliar city. The secure world she grew up in had been destroyed, and the future felt like a blank and confusing canvas. “I missed Syria and Damascus and just this warmness in everything,” she said.

    While wading through these emotions, Mardini received a Facebook message in 2016 from an ERCI volunteer. The swimming sisters from Syria who saved a boat full of refugees were an inspiration. Volunteers on Lesvos told their story to children on the island to give them hope for the future, the volunteer said, inviting Mardini to visit. “It totally touched my heart,” Mardini recalled. “Somebody saw me as a hope… and there is somebody asking for my help.”

    So Mardini flew back to Lesvos in August 2016. Just one year earlier she had nearly died trying to reach the island, before enduring a journey across the Balkans that involved hiding from police officers in forests, narrowly escaping being kidnapped, sneaking across tightly controlled borders, and spending a night in police custody in a barn. Now, all it took was a flight to retrace the route.

    Her first day on the island, Mardini was trained to help refugees disembark safely when their boats reached the shores. By nighttime, she was sitting on the beach watching for approaching vessels. It was past midnight, and the sea was calm. Lights from the Turkish coastline twinkled serenely across the water. After about half an hour, a walkie talkie crackled. The Greek Coast Guard had spotted a boat.

    Volunteers switched on the headlights of their cars, giving the refugees something to aim for. Thin lines of silver from the reflective strips on the refugees’ life jackets glinted in the darkness, and the rumble of a motor and chatter of voices drifted across the water. As the boat came into view, volunteers yelled: “You are in Greece. You are safe. Turn the engine off.”

    Mardini was in the water again, holding the boat steady, helping people disembark. When the rush of activity ended, a feeling of guilt washed over her. “I felt it was unfair that they were on a refugee boat and I’m a rescuer,” she said.

    But Mardini was hooked. She spent the next two weeks assisting with boat landings and teaching swimming lessons to the kids who idolised her and her sister. Even after returning to Germany, she couldn’t stop thinking about Lesvos. “I decided to come back for one month,” she said, “and I never left.”
    Moria camp

    The island became the centre of Mardini’s life. She put her studies at Bard College Berlin on hold to spend more time in Greece. “I found what I love,” she explained.

    Meanwhile, the situation on the Greek islands was changing. In 2017, just under 30,000 people crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece, compared to some 850,000 in 2015. There were fewer arrivals, but those who did come were spending more time in camps with dismal conditions.

    “You have people who are dying and living in a four-metre tent with seven relatives. They have limited access to water. Hygiene is zero. Privacy is zero. Security: zero. Children’s rights: zero. Human rights: zero… You feel useless. You feel very useless.”

    The volunteer response shifted accordingly, towards the camps, and when TNH visited Mardini she moved around the island with a sense of purpose and familiarity, joking with other volunteers and greeting refugees she knew from her work in the streets.

    Much of her time was spent as a translator for ERCI’s medical team in Moria. The camp, the main one on Lesvos, was built to accommodate around 3,000 people, but by 2018 housed close to 9,000. Streams of sewage ran between tents. People were forced to stand in line for hours for food. The wait to see a doctor could take months, and conditions were causing intense psychological strain. Self-harm and suicide attempts were increasing, especially among children, and sexual and gender-based violence were commonplace.

    Mardini was on the front lines. “What we do in Moria is fighting the fire,” she said. “You have people who are dying and living in a four-metre tent with seven relatives. They have limited access to water. Hygiene is zero. Privacy is zero. Security: zero. Children’s rights: zero. Human rights: zero… You feel useless. You feel very useless.”

    By then, Mardini had been on Lesvos almost continuously for nine months, and it was taking a toll. She seemed to be weighed down, slipping into long moments of silence. “I’m taking in. I’m taking in. I’m taking in. But it’s going to come out at some point,” she said.

    It was time for a break. Mardini had decided to return to Berlin at the end of the month to resume her studies and make an effort to invest in her life there. But she planned to remain connected to Lesvos. “I love this island… the sad thing is that it’s not nice for everybody. Others see it as just a jail.”
    Investigation and Arrest

    The airport on Lesvos is on the shoreline close to where Mardini helped with the boat landing her first night as a volunteer. On 21 August, when she went to check in for her flight to Berlin, she was surrounded by five Greek police officers. “They kind of circled around me, and they said that I should come with [them],” Mardini recalled.

    Mardini knew that the police on Lesvos had been investigating her and some of the other volunteers from ERCI, but at first she still didn’t realise what was happening. Seven months earlier, in February 2018, she was briefly detained with a volunteer named Sean Binder, a German national. They had been driving one of ERCI’s 4X4s when police stopped them, searched the vehicle, and found Greek military license plates hidden under the civilian plates.

    When Mardini was arrested at the airport, Binder turned himself in too, and the police released a statement saying they were investigating 30 people – six Greeks and 24 foreigners – for involvement in “organised migrant trafficking rings”. Two Greek nationals, including ERCI’s founder, were also arrested at the time.

    While it is still not clear what the plates were doing on the vehicle, according Van Esveld from HRW, “it does seem clear… neither Sarah or Sean had any idea that these plates were [there]”.

    The felony charges against Mardini and Binder were ultimately unconnected to the plates, and HRW’s Van Esveld said the police work appears to either have been appallingly shoddy or done in bad faith. HRW took the unusual step of commenting on the ongoing case because it appeared authorities were “literally just [taking] a humanitarian activity and labelling it as a crime”, he added.
    Detention

    After two weeks in a cell on Lesvos, Mardini was sent to a prison in Athens. On the ferry ride to the mainland, her hands were shackled. That’s when it sank in: “Ok, it’s official,” she thought. “They’re transferring me to jail.”

    In prison, Mardini was locked in a cell with eight other women from 8pm to 8am. During the day, she would go to Greek classes and art classes, drink coffee with other prisoners, and watch the news.

    She was able to make phone calls, and her mother, who was also granted asylum in Germany, came to visit a number of times. “The first time we saw each other we just broke down in tears,” Mardini recalled. It had been months since they’d seen each other, and now they could only speak for 20 minutes, separated by a plastic barrier.

    Most of the time, Mardini just read, finishing more than 40 books, including Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, which helped her come to terms with her situation. “I decided this is my life right now, and I need to get something out of it,” she explained. “I just accepted what’s going on.”

    People can be held in pre-trial detention for up to 18 months in Greece. But at the beginning of December, a judge accepted Mardini’s lawyer’s request for bail. Binder was released the same day.
    Lingering fear

    On Lesvos, where everyone in the volunteer community knows each other, the case came as a shock. “People started to be... scared,” said Claudia Drost, a 23-year-old from the Netherlands and close friend of Mardini’s who started volunteering on the island in 2016. “There was a feeling of fear that if the police… put [Mardini] in prison, they can put anyone in prison.”

    “We are standing [up] for what we are doing because we are saving people and we are helping people.”

    That feeling was heightened by the knowledge that humanitarians across Europe were being charged with crimes for helping refugees and migrants.

    During the height of the migration crisis in Europe, between the fall of 2015 and winter 2016, some 300 people were arrested in Denmark on charges related to helping refugees. In August 2016, French farmer Cédric Herrou was arrested for helping migrants and asylum seekers cross the French-Italian border. In October 2017, 12 people were charged with facilitating illegal migration in Belgium for letting asylum seekers stay in their homes and use their cellphones. And last June, the captain of a search and rescue boat belonging to the German NGO Mission Lifeline was arrested in Malta and charged with operating the vessel without proper registration or license.

    Drost said that after Mardini was released the fear faded a bit, but still lingers. There is also a sense of defiance. “We are standing [up] for what we are doing because we are saving people and we are helping people,” Drost said.

    As for Mardini, the charges have forced her to disengage from humanitarian work on Lesvos, at least until the case is over. She is back in Berlin and has started university again. “I think because I’m not in Lesvos anymore I’m just finding it very good to be here,” she said. “I’m kind of in a stable moment just to reflect about my life and what I want to do.”

    But she also knows the stability could very well be fleeting. With the prospect of more time in prison hanging over her, the future is still a blank canvas. People often ask if she is optimistic about the case. “No,” she said. “In the first place, they put me in… jail.”

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/feature/2019/05/02/refugee-volunteer-prisoner-sarah-mardini-and-europe-s-hardening-
    #criminalisation #délit_de_solidarité #asile #migrations #solidarité #réfugiés #Grèce #Lesbos #Moria #camps_de_réfugiés #Europe

    Avec une frise chronologique:

    ping @reka

  • The Race to Develop the Moon | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/05/06/the-race-to-develop-the-moon

    The guiding laws of space are defined by the Outer Space Treaty, from 1967, which has been signed by a hundred and eight countries, including all those with substantial space programs. “Laws that govern outer space are similar to the laws for the high seas,” Alain Berinstain, the vice-president of global development at the lunar-exploration company Moon Express, explained. “If you are two hundred miles away from the continental shelf, those waters don’t belong to anybody—they belong to everybody.” Moon Express describes the moon as the eighth continent. The company, which is based in Florida, is hoping to deliver its first lander to the moon in 2020; on board will be telescopes and the Celestis cremains. “If you look down at the waters from your ship and see fish, those fish belong to everybody,” Berinstain continued. “But, if you put a net down and pull those fish onto the deck of the ship, they’re yours. This could change, but right now that is how the U.S. is interpreting the Outer Space Treaty.”

    Individual countries have their own interpretations of the treaty, and set up their own regulatory frameworks. Luxembourg promotes itself as “a unique legal, regulatory and business environment” for companies devoted to space resources, and is the first European country to pass legislation similar to that of the U.S., deeming resources collected in space to be ownable by private entities.

    It’s not difficult to imagine moon development, like all development, proceeding less than peacefully, and less than equitably. (At least, unlike with colonization on Earth, there are no natives whose land we’re taking, or so we assume.) Philip Metzger, a planetary physicist at the University of Central Florida, said, “I’m really glad that all these countries, all these companies, are going to the moon. But there will be problems.” Any country can withdraw from the Outer Space Treaty by giving a year’s notice. “If any country feels it has a sufficient lead in space, that is a motivation to withdraw from the treaty,” he said.

    So there is a tacit space race already. On the one hand, every national space agency applauded the success of the Chang’e-4 lander. The mission had science partnerships with Germany, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden. NASA collaborates with many countries in space, sharing data, communications networks, and expertise. Russian rockets bring American astronauts to the International Space Station. When, in response to economic sanctions, the head of the Russian space agency said that maybe the American astronauts could get to the I.S.S. by trampoline, the comment was dismissed as posturing. Still, NASA has contracted with Boeing and SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, to begin taking astronauts to the I.S.S. this year—which means the U.S. will no longer rely on Russia for that. Russia and China say they will work together on a moon base. NASA used to collaborate with the China National Space Administration; in 2011, six months after members of NASA visited the C.N.S.A., Congress passed a bill that effectively prohibited collaboration.

    It’s natural to want to leave the moon undisturbed; it’s also clear that humanity will disturb it. But do we need to live there? Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, envisages zoning the moon for heavy industry, and Earth for light industry and residential purposes. Bezos’s company Blue Origin is developing reusable rockets intended to bring humans reliably back and forth from space, with the long-term goal of creating manufacturing plants there, in zero gravity. Earth would be eased of its industrial burden, and the lower-gravity conditions would be beneficial for making certain goods, such as fibre-optic cables.

    “There’s the argument that we’ve destroyed the Earth and now we’re going to destroy the moon. But I don’t see it that way,” Metzger said. “The resources in space are billions of times greater than on Earth. Space pretty much erases everything we do. If you crush an asteroid to dust, the solar wind will blow it away. We can’t really mess up the solar system.”

    #Espace #Communs #Tragédie_communs #Idéologie_californienne #Géopolitique

  • Spain’s Far-right Vox Received Almost $1M from ’Marxist-Islamist’ Iranian Exiles: Report | News | teleSUR English
    https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Spains-Far-right-Vox-Received-Almost-1M-from-Marxist-Islamist-Irania

    It is unlikely that Vox’s hyper-nationalist voters know that their party scored a significant presence in Spain’s parliament mostly thanks to Zionists, Islamists and foreigners.

    With the April 28 general elections in Spain over, the far-right party Vox gained about 10 percent of parliamentary seats, marking the far-right’s rising comeback into politics four decades after Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. While a less alarmist reading would say that the far-right was always there, hidden in the conservative People’s Party (PP), the fact that they are out in the open strengthens Europe’s wave of far-right xenophobic and anti-European advance.

    The party appealed to voters in one of Spain’s most contested elections since its return to democracy, mostly basing its arguments against leftists politics, social liberals, migrants, charged mainly with an Islamophobic narrative. Emphasizing the return of a long lost Spain and pushing to fight what they refer to as an “Islamist invasion,” which is the “enemy of Europe.” One could summarize it as an Iberian version of “Make Spain Great Again.”

    Yet while this definitely appealed to almost two million voters, many are unaware of where their party’s initial funding came from. Back in January 2019, an investigation made by the newspaper El Pais revealed, through leaked documents, that almost one million euros - approximately 80 percent of its 2014 campaign funding - donated to Vox between its founding in December 2013 and the European Parliament elections in May 2014 came via the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a self-declared “Marxist” organization and an Islamist group made up of Iranian exiles.

    However, this is where things get complicated. The NCRI is based in France and was founded in 1981 by Massoud Rajavi and Abolhassan Banisadr, nowadays its president-elect is Maryam Rajavi (Massoud’s wife). The Rajavis are also the leaders of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK). A reason for many to believe that the NCRI is just a front for the MEK, which over the past few decades has managed to create a complicated web of anti-Iranian, pro-Israel and right-wing government support from all over the world.

    To understand MEK, it’s necessary to review the 1953 U.S. and British-backed coup which ousted democratically elected prime minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh and instituted a monarchical dictatorship led by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

    The oppression carried out by the Pahlavi royal family led to the creation of many radical groups, one which was MEK, whose ideology combined Marxism and Islamism. Its original anti-west, especially anti-U.S. sentiment pushed for the killing of six U.S citizens in Iran in the 1970s. While in 1979, they enthusiastically cheered the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. After the Iranian Revolution, its young leaders, including Rajavi, pushed for endorsement from the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but were denied.

    So Rajavi, allied with the winner of the country’s first presidential election, Abolhassan Banisadr, who was not an ally of Khomeini, either. Soon Banisadr and MEK became some of Khomeini’s main opposition figures and had fled to Iraq and later to France.

    In the neighboring country, MEK allied with Sadam Hussein to rage war against Iran. In a RAND report, allegations of the group’s complicity with Saddam are corroborated by press reports that quote Maryam Rajavi encouraging MEK members to “take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards."

    The organization was deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union for the better part of the 1990s, but things changed after the U.S. invasion to Iraq in 2003. This is when the U.S. neoconservative strategist leading the Department of State and the intelligence agencies saw MEK as an asset rather than a liability. Put simply in words they applied the dictum of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    The U.S.’s dismissal of past crimes reinvigorated MEK’s intense lobbying campaign to have itself removed from terrorist lists in the U.S. and the European Union. MEK, which by the beginning of the 21 century had morphed into a cult-like group according to many testimonies from dissidents, moved from Camp Ashraf to the U.S-created Camp Liberty outside of Baghdad. And that’s when things rapidly changed.

    According to the Guardian, between 2007 and 2012, a number of Iranian nuclear scientists were attacked. In 2012, NBC News, citing two unnamed U.S. officials, reported that the attacks were planned by Israel’s Mossad and executed by MEK operatives inside Iran. By 2009 and 2012, the EU and the U.S. respectively took it out of its terrorist organizations list.

    Soon after it gained support from U.S. politicians like Rudy Giuliani and current National Security Advisor John Bolton, who now call MEK a legitimate opposition to the current Iranian government. As the U.S. neocon forefathers did before, MEK shed its “Marxism.” After the U.S.’s official withdrawal from Iraq, they built MEK a safe have in Albania, near Tirana, where the trail of money can be followed once again.

    Hassan Heyrani, a former member of MEK’s political department who defected in 2018, and handled parts of the organization’s finances in Iraq, when asked by Foreign Policy where he thought the money for MEK came from, he answered: “Saudi Arabia. Without a doubt.” For another former MEK member, Saadalah Saafi, the organization’s money definitely comes from wealthy Arab states that oppose Iran’s government.

    “Mojahedin [MEK] are the tool, not the funders. They aren’t that big. They facilitate,” Massoud Khodabandeh, who once served in the MEK’s security department told Foreign Policy. “You look at it and say, ‘Oh, Mojahedin are funding [Vox].’ No, they are not. The ones that are funding that party are funding Mojahedin as well.”

    Meanwhile, Danny Yatom, the former head of the Mossad, told the Jersulamen Post that Israel can implement some of its anti-Iran plans through MEK if a war were to break out. Saudi Arabia’s state-run television channels have given friendly coverage to the MEK, and Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, even appeared in July 2016 at a MEK rally in Paris.

    With Israel and Saudi Arabia backing MEK, the question of why a far-right movement would take money from an Islamist organization clears up a bit. Israel’s support of European far-right parties has been public. In 2010, a sizeable delegation arrived in Tel Aviv, consisting of some 30 leaders of the European Alliance for Freedom, gathering leaders such as Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, Philip Dewinter from Belgium and Jorg Haider’s successor, Heinz-Christian Strache, from Austria.

    Yet for the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia, MEK represents an anti-Iranian voice that they so desperately need, and that on the surface didn’t come from them directly. It is unlikely that Vox’s hyper-nationalist voters know that their party scored a significant presence in Spain’s parliament mostly thanks to Zionists, Islamists and foreigners.

    #Espagne #extrême_droite #Israël #Iran #Arabie_Saoudite #OMPI #Albanie

  • Peru’s first autonomous indigenous gov’t strikes back against deforestation
    https://news.mongabay.com/2019/04/perus-first-autonomous-indigenous-govt-strikes-back-against-deforesta

    The Wampis is an indigenous group comprised of thousands of members whose ancestors have lived in the Amazon rainforest of northern Peru for centuries.
    Mounting incursions by loggers, miners and oil prospectors, as well as governance changes that favored industrial exploitation, left the Wampis increasingly worried about the future of their home. Representatives said they realized that only by developing a strong, legal organizational structure would they have a voice to defend their people and the survival of their forest.
    After numerous meetings among their leaders, representatives of 27 Wampis communities, with a combined population of 15,000 people, came together in 2015. They invoked international recognition of the rights of indigenous people and on Nov. 29 declared the creation of an autonomous territorial government called the Wampis Nation to defend its territory and resources from the growing pressures of extractive industries.
    Wampis Nation territory covers an area of rainforest one-third the size of the Netherlands along northern Peru’s border with Ecuador. Leaders say their newfound autonomy and authority has allowed them to directly expel illegal deforestation activities from their land.


    A soldier in the Peruvian army in camouflage and prepared to watch over the country’s borders. Photo by Marcio Pimenta.

    #Pérou #peuples_premiers #terres

  • CASE LAW ON RETURN OF ASYLUM SEEKERS TO AFGHANISTAN, 2017-2018

    This document compiles information from selected European countries, specifically, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. It covers cases from 2017 and 2018 that relate to the return of Afghan nationals, assessed in light of their personal circumstances and the security situation in the country. Whilst every effort has been put into finding relevant case law, the cases cited are, by no means, exhaustive. Where court decisions were not available in English ECRE has supplied a translation.

    #Afghanistan #retour_au_pays #expulsions #renvois #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_afghans #Autriche #Belgique #Finlande #France #Allemagne #Pays-Bas #Norvège #Suède #Suisse #UK #Angleterre

    ping @karine4

  • STOs & CoinBX: The Coming Revolution Worth Hundreds of Trillions of Dollars
    https://hackernoon.com/stos-coinbx-the-coming-revolution-worth-hundreds-of-trillions-of-dollars

    Find out more at aXpire.ioEquities and securities traded on public markets have existed for centuries. The first financial markets appeared in Northern Italy during the Middle Ages with credits and trade rights traded between merchants.Later, during the Age of Discoveries, these kinds of activities thrived in the Netherlands as well, most prominently used in order to fund commercial expeditions in Africa and Asia; the ‘IPO’ of the Dutch East India Company is perhaps the best example of the importance the stock market had on the community which it served.Nowadays, financial markets are an important backbone of the international #economy. As of February 2017, the total capitalization of stocks traded around the world was 69 trillion USD, roughly 100% of the world’s GDP. The total amount of (...)

    #finance #blockchain #crypto #cryptocurrency

  • Which countries have the most immigrants?

    The proportion of immigrants varies considerably from one country to another. In some, it exceeds half the population, while in others it is below 0.1%. Which countries have the most immigrants? Where do they come from? How are they distributed across the world? We provide here an overview of the number and share of immigrants in different countries around the world.

    According to the United Nations, the United States has the highest number of immigrants (foreign-born individuals), with 48 million in 2015, five times more than in Saudi Arabia (11 million) and six times more than in Canada (7.6 million) (figure below). However, in proportion to their population size, these two countries have significantly more immigrants: 34% and 21%, respectively, versus 15% in the United States.

    Looking at the ratio of immigrants to the total population (figure below), countries with a high proportion of immigrants can be divided into five groups:

    The first group comprises countries that are sparsely populated but have abundant oil resources, where immigrants sometimes outnumber the native-born population. In 2015, the world’s highest proportions of immigrants were found in this group: United Arab Emirates (87%), Kuwait (73%), Qatar (68%), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, where the proportion ranges from 34% to 51%.

    The second group consists of very small territories, microstates, often with special tax rules: Macao (57%), Monaco (55%), and Singapore (46%).

    The third group is made up of nations formerly designated as “new countries”, which cover vast territories but are still sparsely populated: Australia (28%) and Canada (21%).

    The fourth group, which is similar to the third in terms of mode of development, is that of Western industrial democracies, in which the proportion of immigrants generally ranges from 9% to 17%: Austria (17%), Sweden (16%), United States (15%), United Kingdom (13%), Spain (13%), Germany (12%), France (12%), the Netherlands (12%), Belgium (11%), and Italy (10%).

    The fifth group includes the so-called “countries of first asylum”, which receive massive flows of refugees due to conflicts in a neighbouring country. For example, at the end of 2015, more than one million Syrian and Iraqi refugees were living in Lebanon, representing the equivalent of 20% of its population, and around 400,000 refugees from Sudan were living in Chad (3% of its population).

    Small countries have higher proportions of immigrants

    With 29% immigrants, Switzerland is ahead of the United States, while the proportion in Luxembourg is even higher (46%). Both the attractiveness and size of the country play a role. The smaller the country, the higher its probable proportion of foreign-born residents. Conversely, the larger the country, the smaller this proportion is likely to be. In 2015, India had 0.4% of immigrants and China 0.07%.

    However, if each Chinese province were an independent country – a dozen provinces have more than 50 million inhabitants, and three of them (Guangdong, Shandong, and Henan) have about 100 million – the proportion of immigrants would be much higher, given that migration from province to province, which has increased in scale over recent years, would be counted as international and not internal migration. Conversely, if the European Union formed a single country, the share of immigrants would decrease considerably, since citizens of one EU country living in another would no longer be counted. The relative scale of the two types of migration – internal and international – is thus strongly linked to the way the territory is divided into separate nations.

    The number of emigrants is difficult to measure

    All immigrants (in-migrants) are also emigrants (out-migrants) from their home countries. Yet the information available for counting emigrants at the level of a particular country is often of poorer quality than for the immigrants, even though, at the global level, they represent the same set of people. Countries are probably less concerned about counting their emigrants than their immigrants, given that the former, unlike the latter, are no longer residents and do not use government-funded public services or infrastructure.

    However, emigrants often contribute substantially to the economy of their home countries by sending back money and in some cases, they still have the right to vote, which is a good reason for sending countries to track their emigrant population more effectively. The statistical sources are another reason for the poor quality of data on emigrants. Migrant arrivals are better recorded than departures, and the number of emigrants is often estimated based on immigrant statistics in the different host countries.

    The number of emigrants varies considerably from one country to another. India headed the list in 2015, with nearly 16 million people born in the country but living in another (see the figure below); Mexico comes in second with more than 12 million emigrants living mainly in the United States.

    Proportionally, Bosnia and Herzegovina holds a record: there is one Bosnian living abroad for two living in the country, which means that one-third of the people born in Bosnia and Herzegovina have emigrated (figure below). Albania is in a similar situation, as well as Cape Verde, an insular country with few natural resources.

    Some countries are both immigration and emigration countries. This is the case of the United Kingdom, which had 8.4 million immigrants and 4.7 million emigrants in 2015. The United States has a considerable number of expatriates (2.9 million in 2015), but this is 17 times less in comparison to the number of immigrants (48 million at the same date).

    Until recently, some countries have been relatively closed to migration, both inward and outward. This is the case for Japan, which has few immigrants (only 1.7% of its population in 2015) and few emigrants (0.6%).
    Immigrants: less than 4% of the world population

    According to the United Nations, there were 258 million immigrants in 2017, representing only a small minority of the world population (3.4%); the vast majority of people live in their country of birth. The proportion of immigrants has only slightly increased over recent decades (30 years ago, in 1990, it was 2.9%, and 55 years ago, in 1965, it was 2.3%). It has probably changed only slightly in 100 years.

    But the distribution of immigrants is different than it was a century ago. One change is, in the words of Alfred Sauvy, the “reversal of migratory flows” between North and South, with a considerable share of international migrants now coming from Southern countries.


    #migrations_nord-sud #migrations_sud-sud #migrations_sud-nord #migrations_nord-nord #visualisation

    Today, migrants can be divided into three groups of practically equal size (figure above): migrants born in the South who live in the North (89 million in 2017, according to the United Nations); South-South migrants (97 million), who have migrated from one Southern country to another; and North-North migrants (57 million). The fourth group – those born in the North and who have migrated to the South – was dominant a century ago but is numerically much smaller today (14 million). Despite their large scale, especially in Europe, migrant flows generated since 2015 by conflicts in the Middle East have not significantly changed the global picture of international migration.

    https://theconversation.com/which-countries-have-the-most-immigrants-113074
    #statistiques #migrations #réfugiés #monde #chiffres #préjugés #afflux #invasion

    signalé par @isskein

  • The U.S. is funding dangerous experiments it doesn’t want you to know about - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-us-is-funding-dangerous-experiments-it-doesnt-want-you-to-know-about/2019/02/27/5f60e934-38ae-11e9-a2cd-307b06d0257b_story.html

    In 2014, U.S. officials imposed a moratorium on experiments to enhance some of the world’s most lethal viruses by making them transmissible by air, responding to widespread concerns that a lab accident could spark a global pandemic. Most infectious-disease studies pose modest safety risks, but given that these proposed experiments intended to create a highly contagious flu virus that could spread among humans, the government concluded the work should not go on until it could be approved through a specially created, rigorous review process that considered the dangers.

    Apparently, the government has decided the research should now move ahead. In the past year, the U.S. government quietly greenlighted funding for two groups of researchers, one in the United States and the other in the Netherlands, to conduct transmission-enhancing experiments on the bird flu virus as they were originally proposed before the moratorium. Amazingly, despite the potential public-health consequences of such work, neither the approval nor the deliberations or judgments that supported it were announced publicly. The government confirmed them only when a reporter learned about them through non-official channels.

    This lack of transparency is unacceptable. Making decisions to approve potentially dangerous research in secret betrays the government’s responsibility to inform and involve the public when approving endeavors, whether scientific or otherwise, that could put health and lives at risk.

    #expériences #infection #etats-unis

  • For Israel’s golden intel boys, it starts with terror and ends with greed Veterans of Israel’s famed signal intelligence corps, already well versed in violence against the helpless, are now indulging in rotten meddling abroad
    Gideon Levy - Feb 16, 2019 10:53 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-for-israel-s-golden-intel-boys-it-starts-with-terror-and-ends-with

    A coincidence brought together two stories in Haaretz last Wednesday. One reported on the sadistic abuse of two Palestinians by soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, while the other told of astonishing meddling abroad by Israeli intelligence companies.

    Ostensibly the conduct of the battalion is more sickening. But actually the actions of veterans of the Mossad and the military’s signal intelligence unit, 8200, is much more disturbing.

    The abusive soldiers will be punished to some extent; usually they come from the margins of society. But the veterans of Israel’s top secret cyber-agencies are the new elite, the heroes of our time, beautiful and promising, the proud future of innovation and high-tech. Who doesn’t want their son or daughter to serve in 8200? Who isn’t proud of the Mossad’s work?

    But some of these good people do very bad things, no less infuriating than punching a blindfolded Palestinian in front of his son. At 8200 they don’t kill people or beat them up, but the damage the unit’s veterans do can be no less severe.

    The success stories are many. The name of the game is to start up a company, exit quickly and take the money. In T-shirts, sneakers and jeans they make money hand over fist. During their afternoon breaks they order sushi and play the video games “FIFA 17” and “Mortal Kombat.”

    Most of them come from 8200. Beneath their impressive successes, there is rot. The veterans of the biggest and maybe the most prestigious unit in the army, the new pilots, know everything. Sometimes too much.

    A long, disturbing article by Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker tells about these companies, particularly Psy-Group, made up of Mossad and 8200 veterans. There’s no place in the world they’re not interfering – from Gabon to Romania, from the Netherlands to the U.S. elections.

    There’s also nothing they won’t do; money covers everything. Project Butterfly, the war declared by Israeli cyber-mercenaries on U.S. campuses against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, was particularly disgusting. Psy-Group, with members of the old boys’ club – Ram Ben-Barak, a former deputy head of the Mossad and a Yesh Atid Knesset candidate, and Yaakov Amidror, a general and a former national security adviser – spied on anti-Israel activists on U.S. campuses and collected dirt on them.

    It’s like a war, the hero Ben-Barak told The New Yorker. The private Israeli firm works on U.S. campuses against political activists for $2.5 million a year. This money was contributed by Jews (who were promised they were “investing in Israel’s future”), some of whose children are students on those same campuses.

    Imagine if a foreign company spied on right-wing students in Israel and spread slander about them. But Israel is allowed to do anything. Uzi Arad, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a Mossad veteran, told The New Yorker that he was ashamed of these mercenaries.

    These actions are being carried out by the best of our young people. According to The New Yorker, the Israeli companies control the global disinformation and manipulation market. They have a huge advantage. As Gadi Aviran, founder of the intelligence firm Terrogence, told the magazine: “There was this huge pipeline of talent coming out of the military every year,” and “All a company like mine had to do was stand at the gate and say, ‘You look interesting.’” It always starts with terror, real or imagined, and ends with greed.

    First we have a “huge pipeline of talent” familiar with the alleyways of Jabalya and Jenin in the West Bank, well experienced in violence against the helpless. The training grounds of the Israeli arms industry, unmanned bombers and lethal joysticks have led to lots of prestige and money for the state.

    Now, in the spirit of the times, we have the meddlers from the high-ups of the Mossad and 8200. And when one day somebody asks where the temerity came from to meddle like that, we’ll quote Amidror, who said: “If people are ready to finance it, it is O.K. with me.” Before we keep encouraging young people to join 8200 and take pride in the unit, we should remember that this rot also emerged from it.

  • Netherlands recognize Gaza, West Bank as official Palestinian birthplaces
    Feb. 10, 2019 3:30 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 10, 2019 3:51 P.M.)
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=782505

    BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinians living in the Netherlands will be allowed to register the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as their official place of birth, Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops told the House of Representatives in The Hague.

    The Netherlands, which does not recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, currently offers Palestinians two options when specifying their birthplace at the Dutch civil registry, the two options are Israel or “unknown.”

    Knops wrote a letter to the House of Representatives, saying that he intends to add the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem to a list of official states used by the Dutch civil registry.

    The new category will be available to Palestinians born after May 15th 1948, the day the British Mandate was officially terminated and Israel became a recognized state.

    In the letter, Knops stated that the new category is in accordance with “the Dutch viewpoint that Israel has no sovereignty over these areas,” as well as the Netherlands’ refusal to recognize Palestine as a state.

    Knops added that the new category was named based on the Oslo Accords and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
    While the UN General Assembly and at least 136 countries have recognized Palestine as a sovereign state, most of the European Union has refrained from recognition until such status is established peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. (...)

  • The Evolution of #coffee #culture
    https://hackernoon.com/the-evolution-of-coffee-culture-2f412b555313?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3-

    Whether sprinkled with sugar and cream, flavored with caramel or hazelnut, or just a plan black cup of Joe, coffee is one of the most popular beverages all over the world. It is so beloved, in fact, that many cultures claim responsibility for the first brew. But there’s more to it than just being smooth liquid gold — the culture of coffee is just as permeating as the drink itself.In the 17th century, brought on by the East India Trading Company, the first known coffee shop was opened in the Netherlands sparking the beginning of European coffee culture. Though the first recorded instance of drinkable coffee was found in 15th century Yemen, early global trade quickly made coffee not only a powerful commodity, but a powerful political statement as well. Surrounding the events of America’s (...)

    #coffee-culture-evolution #infographics #coffee-culture

  • 2018: The Downfall of Crypto Funds
    https://hackernoon.com/2018-the-downfall-of-crypto-funds-9d7a2642dc96?source=rss----3a8144eabfe

    “Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance”Crypto hedge funds are part of a larger group of crypto funds, including those based on venture capital and private equity. Grouped together, there are currently 622 crypto funds across all categories, 303 of those being crypto hedge funds, which represent assets of less than $4 billion, according to the research. Half of the funds are based in the U.S., multiple launches have been seen in Australia, China, Malta, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the U.K. this 2018. 2017 was a great year to start a crypto hedge fund. Great returns.Is it hard to perform in bull markets?2018, on the other hand, has seen a significant downturn in many of the cryptocurrencies. Many of these coins make up a strong percentage of most of the (...)

    #cryptocurrency #finance #blockchain #investing #bitcoin

  • Founder Interviews: Marc Köhlbrugge of WIP
    https://hackernoon.com/founder-interviews-marc-k%C3%B6hlbrugge-of-wip-4f2d6d696d5c?source=rss--

    Marc Köhlbrugge at a WIP meetupLearn how Marc took a Telegram group chat and turned it into a thriving community of founders and makers, generating over $40,000 in annual revenue.What’s your background, and what are you working on?? Hi! My name is Marc Köhlbrugge, 31 years old. Born and raised in the Netherlands, but now traveling the world as a digital nomad.I’ve built dozens of products, but am probably best known for BetaList, and recently WIP and Startup Jobs.BetaList is a place for early adopters to discover up-and-coming tech startups. In the 8+ years we’ve been in business we’ve seen many startups come and go. Some of the most notable examples are Pinterest, IFTTT, and Airtable which we all featured pre-launch before they were widely known. Revenue (advertising & expedited reviews) is (...)

  • Ben Bertrand
    http://www.radiopanik.org/emissions/moacrealsloa/ben-bertrand

    Ben Bertrand is a Belgian Bass Clarinetist and composer. Transforming his instrument’s natural sound by means of electronics, he creates live an hypnotic music. After releasing a first EP (Era/Area, Off-Record 2017) a « tiny masterpiece » according to Gonzo Circus Magazine, he toured in Belgium and Netherlands (Ancienne Belgique, Le Guess Who?, World Minimal Music Festival). His new LP « NGC1999 » had been released on les albums claus in May 2018 and had been part of the ninth MOJO playlist of 2018 with works of Brian Eno and Jim O’Rourke. His music has been broadcasted on the BBC and on NTS.

    Ben Bertrand is armed with a bass clarinet and backed with sound effects, aiming in the direction of the contemporary classical section of your record collection. Dreamlike compositions (...)

    http://www.radiopanik.org/media/sounds/moacrealsloa/ben-bertrand_05999__1.mp3

  • Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think ? | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/14/is-marijuana-as-safe-as-we-think

    A few years ago, the National Academy of Medicine convened a panel of sixteen leading medical experts to analyze the scientific literature on cannabis. The report they prepared, which came out in January of 2017, runs to four hundred and sixty-eight pages. It contains no bombshells or surprises, which perhaps explains why it went largely unnoticed. It simply stated, over and over again, that a drug North Americans have become enthusiastic about remains a mystery.

    For example, smoking pot is widely supposed to diminish the nausea associated with chemotherapy. But, the panel pointed out, “there are no good-quality randomized trials investigating this option.” We have evidence for marijuana as a treatment for pain, but “very little is known about the efficacy, dose, routes of administration, or side effects of commonly used and commercially available cannabis products in the United States.” The caveats continue. Is it good for epilepsy? “Insufficient evidence.” Tourette’s syndrome? Limited evidence. A.L.S., Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s? Insufficient evidence. Irritable-bowel syndrome? Insufficient evidence. Dementia and glaucoma? Probably not. Anxiety? Maybe. Depression? Probably not.

    Then come Chapters 5 through 13, the heart of the report, which concern marijuana’s potential risks. The haze of uncertainty continues. Does the use of cannabis increase the likelihood of fatal car accidents? Yes. By how much? Unclear. Does it affect motivation and cognition? Hard to say, but probably. Does it affect employment prospects? Probably. Will it impair academic achievement? Limited evidence. This goes on for pages.

    We need proper studies, the panel concluded, on the health effects of cannabis on children and teen-agers and pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers and “older populations” and “heavy cannabis users”; in other words, on everyone except the college student who smokes a joint once a month. The panel also called for investigation into “the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of cannabis, modes of delivery, different concentrations, in various populations, including the dose-response relationships of cannabis and THC or other cannabinoids.”

    Not surprisingly, the data we have are messy. Berenson, in his role as devil’s advocate, emphasizes the research that sees cannabis as opening the door to opioid use. For example, two studies of identical twins—in the Netherlands and in Australia—show that, in cases where one twin used cannabis before the age of seventeen and the other didn’t, the cannabis user was several times more likely to develop an addiction to opioids. Berenson also enlists a statistician at N.Y.U. to help him sort through state-level overdose data, and what he finds is not encouraging: “States where more people used cannabis tended to have more overdoses.”

    The National Academy panel is more judicious. Its conclusion is that we simply don’t know enough, because there haven’t been any “systematic” studies. But the panel’s uncertainty is scarcely more reassuring than Berenson’s alarmism. Seventy-two thousand Americans died in 2017 of drug overdoses. Should you embark on a pro-cannabis crusade without knowing whether it will add to or subtract from that number?

    Drug policy is always clearest at the fringes. Illegal opioids are at one end. They are dangerous. Manufacturers and distributors belong in prison, and users belong in drug-treatment programs. The cannabis industry would have us believe that its product, like coffee, belongs at the other end of the continuum. “Flow Kana partners with independent multi-generational farmers who cultivate under full sun, sustainably, and in small batches,” the promotional literature for one California cannabis brand reads. “Using only organic methods, these stewards of the land have spent their lives balancing a unique and harmonious relationship between the farm, the genetics and the terroir.” But cannabis is not coffee. It’s somewhere in the middle. The experience of most users is relatively benign and predictable; the experience of a few, at the margins, is not.

    The National Academy panel is more judicious. Its conclusion is that we simply don’t know enough, because there haven’t been any “systematic” studies. But the panel’s uncertainty is scarcely more reassuring than Berenson’s alarmism. Seventy-two thousand Americans died in 2017 of drug overdoses. Should you embark on a pro-cannabis crusade without knowing whether it will add to or subtract from that number?

    Drug policy is always clearest at the fringes. Illegal opioids are at one end. They are dangerous. Manufacturers and distributors belong in prison, and users belong in drug-treatment programs. The cannabis industry would have us believe that its product, like coffee, belongs at the other end of the continuum. “Flow Kana partners with independent multi-generational farmers who cultivate under full sun, sustainably, and in small batches,” the promotional literature for one California cannabis brand reads. “Using only organic methods, these stewards of the land have spent their lives balancing a unique and harmonious relationship between the farm, the genetics and the terroir.” But cannabis is not coffee. It’s somewhere in the middle. The experience of most users is relatively benign and predictable; the experience of a few, at the margins, is not.

    Late last year, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, announced a federal crackdown on e-cigarettes. He had seen the data on soaring use among teen-agers, and, he said, “it shocked my conscience.” He announced that the F.D.A. would ban many kinds of flavored e-cigarettes, which are especially popular with teens, and would restrict the retail outlets where e-cigarettes were available.

    In the dozen years since e-cigarettes were introduced into the marketplace, they have attracted an enormous amount of attention. There are scores of studies and papers on the subject in the medical and legal literature, grappling with the questions raised by the new technology. Vaping is clearly popular among kids. Is it a gateway to traditional tobacco use? Some public-health experts worry that we’re grooming a younger generation for a lifetime of dangerous addiction. Yet other people see e-cigarettes as a much safer alternative for adult smokers looking to satisfy their nicotine addiction. That’s the British perspective. Last year, a Parliamentary committee recommended cutting taxes on e-cigarettes and allowing vaping in areas where it had previously been banned. Since e-cigarettes are as much as ninety-five per cent less harmful than regular cigarettes, the committee argued, why not promote them? Gottlieb said that he was splitting the difference between the two positions—giving adults “opportunities to transition to non-combustible products,” while upholding the F.D.A.’s “solemn mandate to make nicotine products less accessible and less appealing to children.” He was immediately criticized.

    “Somehow, we have completely lost all sense of public-health perspective,” Michael Siegel, a public-health researcher at Boston University, wrote after the F.D.A. announcement:

    #Santé_publique #Marijuana

  • Pan Am Flight 103 : Robert Mueller’s 30-Year Search for Justice | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/robert-muellers-search-for-justice-for-pan-am-103

    Cet article décrit le rôle de Robert Mueller dans l’enquête historique qui a permis de dissimuler ou de justifier la plupart des batailles de la guerre non déclarée des États Unis contre l’OLP et les pays arabes qui soutenaient la lutte pour un état palestinien.

    Aux États-Unis, en Allemagne et en France le grand public ignore les actes de guerre commis par les États Unis dans cette guerre. Vu dans ce contexte on ne peut que classer le récit de cet article dans la catégorie idéologie et propagande même si les intentions et faits qu’on y apprend sont bien documentés et plausibles.

    Cette perspective transforme le contenu de cet article d’une variation sur un thème connu dans un reportage sur l’état d’âme des dirigeants étatsuniens moins fanatiques que l’équipe du président actuel.

    THIRTY YEARS AGO last Friday, on the darkest day of the year, 31,000 feet above one of the most remote parts of Europe, America suffered its first major terror attack.

    TEN YEARS AGO last Friday, then FBI director Robert Mueller bundled himself in his tan trench coat against the cold December air in Washington, his scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. Sitting on a small stage at Arlington National Cemetery, he scanned the faces arrayed before him—the victims he’d come to know over years, relatives and friends of husbands and wives who would never grow old, college students who would never graduate, business travelers and flight attendants who would never come home.

    Burned into Mueller’s memory were the small items those victims had left behind, items that he’d seen on the shelves of a small wooden warehouse outside Lockerbie, Scotland, a visit he would never forget: A teenager’s single white sneaker, an unworn Syracuse University sweatshirt, the wrapped Christmas gifts that would never be opened, a lonely teddy bear.

    A decade before the attacks of 9/11—attacks that came during Mueller’s second week as FBI director, and that awoke the rest of America to the threats of terrorism—the bombing of Pan Am 103 had impressed upon Mueller a new global threat.

    It had taught him the complexity of responding to international terror attacks, how unprepared the government was to respond to the needs of victims’ families, and how on the global stage justice would always be intertwined with geopolitics. In the intervening years, he had never lost sight of the Lockerbie bombing—known to the FBI by the codename Scotbom—and he had watched the orphaned children from the bombing grow up over the years.

    Nearby in the cemetery stood a memorial cairn made of pink sandstone—a single brick representing each of the victims, the stone mined from a Scottish quarry that the doomed flight passed over just seconds before the bomb ripped its baggage hold apart. The crowd that day had gathered near the cairn in the cold to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

    For a man with an affinity for speaking in prose, not poetry, a man whose staff was accustomed to orders given in crisp sentences as if they were Marines on the battlefield or under cross-examination from a prosecutor in a courtroom, Mueller’s remarks that day soared in a way unlike almost any other speech he’d deliver.

    “There are those who say that time heals all wounds. But you know that not to be true. At its best, time may dull the deepest wounds; it cannot make them disappear,” Mueller told the assembled mourners. “Yet out of the darkness of this day comes a ray of light. The light of unity, of friendship, and of comfort from those who once were strangers and who are now bonded together by a terrible moment in time. The light of shared memories that bring smiles instead of sadness. And the light of hope for better days to come.”

    He talked of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and of inspiration drawn from Lockerbie’s town crest, with its simple motto, “Forward.” He spoke of what was then a two-decade-long quest for justice, of how on windswept Scottish mores and frigid lochs a generation of FBI agents, investigators, and prosecutors had redoubled their dedication to fighting terrorism.

    Mueller closed with a promise: “Today, as we stand here together on this, the darkest of days, we renew that bond. We remember the light these individuals brought to each of you here today. We renew our efforts to bring justice down on those who seek to harm us. We renew our efforts to keep our people safe, and to rid the world of terrorism. We will continue to move forward. But we will never forget.”

    Hand bells tolled for each of the victims as their names were read aloud, 270 names, 270 sets of bells.

    The investigation, though, was not yet closed. Mueller, although he didn’t know it then, wasn’t done with Pan Am 103. Just months after that speech, the case would test his innate sense of justice and morality in a way that few other cases in his career ever have.

    ROBERT S. MUELLER III had returned from a combat tour in Vietnam in the late 1960s and eventually headed to law school at the University of Virginia, part of a path that he hoped would lead him to being an FBI agent. Unable after graduation to get a job in government, he entered private practice in San Francisco, where he found he loved being a lawyer—just not a defense attorney.

    Then—as his wife Ann, a teacher, recounted to me years ago—one morning at their small home, while the two of them made the bed, Mueller complained, “Don’t I deserve to be doing something that makes me happy?” He finally landed a job as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco and stood, for the first time, in court and announced, “Good morning your Honor, I am Robert Mueller appearing on behalf of the United States of America.” It is a moment that young prosecutors often practice beforehand, and for Mueller those words carried enormous weight. He had found the thing that made him happy.

    His family remembers that time in San Francisco as some of their happiest years; the Muellers’ two daughters were young, they loved the Bay Area—and have returned there on annual vacations almost every year since relocating to the East Coast—and Mueller found himself at home as a prosecutor.

    On Friday nights, their routine was that Ann and the two girls would pick Mueller up at Harrington’s Bar & Grill, the city’s oldest Irish pub, not far from the Ferry Building in the Financial District, where he hung out each week with a group of prosecutors, defense attorneys, cops, and agents. (One Christmas, his daughter Cynthia gave him a model of the bar made out of Popsicle sticks.) He balanced that family time against weekends and trainings with the Marines Corps Reserves, where he served for more than a decade, until 1980, eventually rising to be a captain.

    Over the next 15 years, he rose through the ranks of the San Francisco US attorney’s office—an office he would return to lead during the Clinton administration—and then decamped to Massachusetts to work for US attorney William Weld in the 1980s. There, too, he shined and eventually became acting US attorney when Weld departed at the end of the Reagan administration. “You cannot get the words straight arrow out of your head,” Weld told me, speaking of Mueller a decade ago. “The agencies loved him because he knew his stuff. He didn’t try to be elegant or fancy, he just put the cards on the table.”

    In 1989, an old high school classmate, Robert Ross, who was chief of staff to then attorney general Richard Thornburgh, asked Mueller to come down to Washington to help advise Thornburgh. The offer intrigued Mueller. Ann protested the move—their younger daughter Melissa wanted to finish high school in Massachusetts. Ann told her husband, “We can’t possibly do this.” He replied, his eyes twinkling, “You’re right, it’s a terrible time. Well, why don’t we just go down and look at a few houses?” As she told me, “When he wants to do something, he just revisits it again and again.”

    For his first two years at so-called Main Justice in Washington, working under President George H.W. Bush, the family commuted back and forth from Boston to Washington, alternating weekends in each city, to allow Melissa to finish school.

    Washington gave Mueller his first exposure to national politics and cases with geopolitical implications; in September 1990, President Bush nominated him to be assistant attorney general, overseeing the Justice Department’s entire criminal division, which at that time handled all the nation’s terrorism cases as well. Mueller would oversee the prosecution of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, mob boss John Gotti, and the controversial investigation into a vast money laundering scheme run through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals

    None of his cases in Washington, though, would affect him as much as the bombing of Pan Am 103.

    THE TIME ON the clocks in Lockerbie, Scotland, read 7:04 pm, on December 21, 1988, when the first emergency call came into the local fire brigade, reporting what sounded like a massive boiler explosion. It was technically early evening, but it had been dark for hours already; that far north, on the shortest day of the year, daylight barely stretched to eight hours.

    Soon it became clear something much worse than a boiler explosion had unfolded: Fiery debris pounded the landscape, plunging from the sky and killing 11 Lockerbie residents. As Mike Carnahan told a local TV reporter, “The whole sky was lit up with flames. It was actually raining, liquid fire. You could see several houses on the skyline with the roofs totally off and all you could see was flaming timbers.”

    At 8:45 pm, a farmer found in his field the cockpit of Pan Am 103, a Boeing 747 known as Clipper Maid of the Seas, lying on its side, 15 of its crew dead inside, just some of the 259 passengers and crew killed when a bomb had exploded inside the plane’s cargo hold. The scheduled London to New York flight never even made it out of the UK.

    It had taken just three seconds for the plane to disintegrate in the air, though the wreckage took three long minutes to fall the five miles from the sky to the earth; court testimony later would examine how passengers had still been alive as they fell. Nearly 200 of the passengers were American, including 35 students from Syracuse University returning home from a semester abroad. The attack horrified America, which until then had seen terror touch its shores only occasionally as a hijacking went awry; while the US had weathered the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, attacks almost never targeted civilians.

    The Pan Am 103 bombing seemed squarely aimed at the US, hitting one of its most iconic brands. Pan Am then represented America’s global reach in a way few companies did; the world’s most powerful airline shuttled 19 million passengers a year to more than 160 countries and had ferried the Beatles to their US tour and James Bond around the globe on his cinematic missions. In a moment of hubris a generation before Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the airline had even opened a “waiting list” for the first tourists to travel to outer space. Its New York headquarters, the Pan Am building, was the world’s largest commercial building and its terminal at JFK Airport the biggest in the world.

    The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103 began immediately, as police and investigators streamed north from London by the hundreds; chief constable John Boyd, the head of the local police, arrived at the Lockerbie police station by 8:15 pm, and within an hour the first victim had been brought in: A farmer arrived in town with the body of a baby girl who had fallen from the sky. He’d carefully placed her in the front seat of his pickup truck.

    An FBI agent posted in London had raced north too, with the US ambassador, aboard a special US Air Force flight, and at 2 am, when Boyd convened his first senior leadership meeting, he announced, “The FBI is here, and they are fully operational.” By that point, FBI explosives experts were already en route to Scotland aboard an FAA plane; agents would install special secure communications equipment in Lockerbie and remain on site for months.

    Although it quickly became clear that a bomb had targeted Pan Am 103—wreckage showed signs of an explosion and tested positive for PETN and RDX, two key ingredients of the explosive Semtex—the investigation proceeded with frustrating slowness. Pan Am’s records were incomplete, and it took days to even determine the full list of passengers. At the same time, it was the largest crime scene ever investigated—a fact that remains true today.

    Investigators walked 845 square miles, an area 12 times the size of Washington, DC, and searched so thoroughly that they recovered more than 70 packages of airline crackers and ultimately could reconstruct about 85 percent of the fuselage. (Today, the wreckage remains in an English scrapyard.) Constable Boyd, at his first press conference, told the media, “This is a mammoth inquiry.”

    On Christmas Eve, a searcher found a piece of a luggage pallet with signs of obvious scorching, which would indicate the bomb had been in the luggage compartment below the passenger cabin. The evidence was rushed to a special British military lab—one originally created to investigate the Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and kill King James I in 1605.

    When the explosive tests came back a day later, the British government called the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for combating terrorism, L. Paul Bremer III (who would go on to be President George W. Bush’s viceroy in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion of Iraq), and officially delivered the news that everyone had anticipated: Pan Am 103 had been downed by a bomb.

    Meanwhile, FBI agents fanned out across the country. In New York, special agent Neil Herman—who would later lead the FBI’s counterterrorism office in New York in the run up to 9/11—was tasked with interviewing some of the victims’ families; many of the Syracuse students on board had been from the New York region. One of the mothers he interviewed hadn’t heard from the government in the 10 days since the attack. “It really struck me how ill-equipped we were to deal with this,” Herman told me, years later. “Multiply her by 270 victims and families.” The bombing underscored that the FBI and the US government had a lot to learn in responding and aiding victims in a terror attack.

    INVESTIGATORS MOVED TOWARD piecing together how a bomb could have been placed on board; years before the 9/11 attack, they discounted the idea of a suicide bomber aboard—there had never been a suicide attack on civil aviation at that point—and so focused on one of two theories: The possibility of a “mule,” an innocent passenger duped into carrying a bomb aboard, or an “inside man,” a trusted airport or airline employee who had smuggled the fatal cargo aboard. The initial suspect list stretched to 1,200 names.

    Yet even reconstructing what was on board took an eternity: Evidence pointed to a Japanese manufactured Toshiba cassette recorder as the likely delivery device for the bomb, and then, by the end of January, investigators located pieces of the suitcase that had held the bomb. After determining that it was a Samsonite bag, police and the FBI flew to the company’s headquarters in the United States and narrowed the search further: The bag, they found, was a System 4 Silhouette 4000 model, color “antique-copper,” a case and color made for only three years, 1985 to 1988, and sold only in the Middle East. There were a total of 3,500 such suitcases in circulation.

    By late spring, investigators had identified 14 pieces of luggage inside the target cargo container, known as AVE4041; each bore tell-tale signs of the explosion. Through careful retracing of how luggage moved through the London airport, investigators determined that the bags on the container’s bottom row came from passengers transferring in London. The bags on the second and third row of AVE4041 had been the last bags loaded onto the leg of the flight that began in Frankfurt, before the plane took off for London. None of the baggage had been X-rayed or matched with passengers on board.

    The British lab traced clothing fragments from the wreckage that bore signs of the explosion and thus likely originated in the bomb-carrying suitcase. It was an odd mix: Two herring-bone skirts, men’s pajamas, tartan trousers, and so on. The most promising fragment was a blue infant’s onesie that, after fiber analysis, was conclusively determined to have been inside the explosive case, and had a label saying “Malta Trading Company.” In March, two detectives took off for Malta, where the manufacturer told them that 500 such articles of clothing had been made and most sent to Ireland, while the rest went locally to Maltese outlets and others to continental Europe.

    As they dug deeper, they focused on bag B8849, which appeared to have come off Air Malta Flight 180—Malta to Frankfurt—on December 21, even though there was no record of one of that flight’s 47 passengers transferring to Pan Am 103.

    Investigators located the store in Malta where the suspect clothing had been sold; the British inspector later recorded in his statement, “[Store owner] Anthony Gauci interjected and stated that he could recall selling a pair of the checked trousers, size 34, and three pairs of the pajamas to a male person.” The investigators snapped to attention—after nine months did they finally have a suspect in their sights? “[Gauci] informed me that the man had also purchased the following items: one imitation Harris Tweed jacket; one woolen cardigan; one black umbrella; one blue colored ‘Baby Gro’ with a motif described by the witness as a ‘sheep’s face’ on the front; and one pair of gents’ brown herring-bone material trousers, size 36.”

    Game, set, match. Gauci had perfectly described the clothing fragments found by RARDE technicians to contain traces of explosive. The purchase, Gauci went on to explain, stood out in his mind because the customer—whom Gauci tellingly identified as speaking the “Libyan language”—had entered the store on November 23, 1988, and gathered items without seeming to care about the size, gender, or color of any of it.

    As the investigation painstakingly proceeded into 1989 and 1990, Robert Mueller arrived at Main Justice; the final objects of the Lockerbie search wouldn’t be found until the spring of 1990, just months before Mueller took over as assistant attorney general of the criminal division in September.

    The Justice Department that year was undergoing a series of leadership changes; the deputy attorney general, William Barr, became acting attorney general midyear as Richard Thornburgh stepped down to run for Senate back in his native Pennsylvania. President Bush then nominated Barr to take over as attorney general officially. (Earlier this month Barr was nominated by President Trump to become attorney general once again.)

    The bombing soon became one of the top cases on Mueller’s desk. He met regularly with Richard Marquise, the FBI special agent heading Scotbom. For Mueller, the case became personal; he met with victims’ families and toured the Lockerbie crash site and the investigation’s headquarters. He traveled repeatedly to the United Kingdom for meetings and walked the fields of Lockerbie himself. “The Scots just did a phenomenal job with the crime scene,” he told me, years ago.

    Mueller pushed the investigators forward constantly, getting involved in the investigation at a level that a high-ranking Justice Department official almost never does. Marquise turned to him in one meeting, after yet another set of directions, and sighed, “Geez, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you want to be FBI director.”

    The investigation gradually, carefully, zeroed in on Libya. Agents traced a circuit board used in the bomb to a similar device seized in Africa a couple of years earlier used by Libyan intelligence. An FBI-created database of Maltese immigration records even showed that a man using the same alias as one of those Libyan intelligence officers had departed from Malta on October 19, 1988—just two months before the bombing.

    The circuit board also helped makes sense of an important aspect of the bombing: It controlled a timer, meaning that the bomb was not set off by a barometric trigger that registers altitude. This, in turn, explained why the explosive baggage had lain peacefully in the jet’s hold as it took off and landed repeatedly.

    Tiny letters on the suspect timer said “MEBO.” What was MEBO? In the days before Google, searching for something called “Mebo” required going country to country, company to company. There were no shortcuts. The FBI, MI5, and CIA were, after months of work, able to trace MEBO back to a Swiss company, Meister et Bollier, adding a fifth country to the ever-expanding investigative circle.

    From Meister et Bollier, they learned that the company had provided 20 prototype timers to the Libyan government and the company helped ID their contact as a Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who looked like the sketch of the Maltese clothing shopper. Then, when the FBI looked at its database of Maltese immigration records, they found that Al Megrahi had been present in Malta the day the clothing was purchased.

    Marquise sat down with Robert Mueller and the rest of the prosecutorial team and laid out the latest evidence. Mueller’s orders were clear—he wanted specific suspects and he wanted to bring charges. As he said, “Proceed toward indictment.” Let’s get this case moving.

    IN NOVEMBER 1990, Marquise was placed in charge of all aspects of the investigation and assigned on special duty to the Washington Field Office and moved to a new Scotbom task force. The field offce was located far from the Hoover building, in a run-down neighborhood known by the thoroughly unromantic moniker of Buzzard Point.

    The Scotbom task force had been allotted three tiny windowless rooms with dark wood paneling, which were soon covered floor-to-ceiling with 747 diagrams, crime scene photographs, maps, and other clues. By the door of the office, the team kept two photographs to remind themselves of the stakes: One, a tiny baby shoe recovered from the fields of Lockerbie; the other, a picture of the American flag on the tail of Pan Am 103. This was the first major attack on the US and its civilians. Whoever was responsible couldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    With representatives from a half-dozen countries—the US, Britain, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, France, and Malta—now sitting around the table, putting together a case that met everyone’s evidentiary standards was difficult. “We talked through everything, and everything was always done to the higher standard,” Marquise says. In the US, for instance, the legal standard for a photo array was six photos; in Scotland, though, it was 12. So every photo array in the investigation had 12 photos to ensure that the IDs could be used in a British court.

    The trail of evidence so far was pretty clear, and it all pointed toward Libya. Yet there was still much work to do prior to an indictment. A solid hunch was one thing. Having evidence that would stand up in court and under cross-examination was something else entirely.

    As the case neared an indictment, the international investigators and prosecutors found themselves focusing at their gatherings on the fine print of their respective legal code and engaging in deep, philosophical-seeming debates: “What does murder mean in your statute? Huh? I know what murder means: I kill you. Well, then you start going through the details and the standards are just a little different. It may entail five factors in one country, three in another. Was Megrahi guilty of murder? Depends on the country.”

    At every meeting, the international team danced around the question of where a prosecution would ultimately take place. “Jurisdiction was an eggshell problem,” Marquise says. “It was always there, but no one wanted to talk about it. It was always the elephant in the room.”

    Mueller tried to deflect the debate for as long as possible, arguing there was more investigation to do first. Eventually, though, he argued forcefully that the case should be tried in the US. “I recognize that Scotland has significant equities which support trial of the case in your country,” he said in one meeting. “However, the primary target of this act of terrorism was the United States. The majority of the victims were Americans, and the Pan American aircraft was targeted precisely because it was of United States registry.”

    After one meeting, where the Scots and Americans debated jurisdiction for more than two hours, the group migrated over to the Peasant, a restaurant near the Justice Department, where, in an attempt to foster good spirits, it paid for the visiting Scots. Mueller and the other American officials each had to pay for their own meals.

    Mueller was getting ready to move forward; the federal grand jury would begin work in early September. Prosecutors and other investigators were already preparing background, readying evidence, and piecing together information like the names and nationalities of all the Lockerbie victims so that they could be included in the forthcoming indictment.

    There had never been any doubt in the US that the Pan Am 103 bombing would be handled as a criminal matter, but the case was still closely monitored by the White House and the National Security Council.

    The Reagan administration had been surprised in February 1988 by the indictment on drug charges of its close ally Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and a rule of thumb had been developed: Give the White House a heads up anytime you’re going to indict a foreign agent. “If you tag Libya with Pan Am 103, that’s fair to say it’s going to disrupt our relationship with Libya,” Mueller deadpans. So Mueller would head up to the Cabinet Room at the White House, charts and pictures in hand, to explain to President Bush and his team what Justice had in mind.

    To Mueller, the investigation underscored why such complex investigations needed a law enforcement eye. A few months after the attack, he sat through a CIA briefing pointing toward Syria as the culprit behind the attack. “That’s always struck with me as a lesson in the difference between intelligence and evidence. I always try to remember that,” he told me, back when he was FBI director. “It’s a very good object lesson about hasty action based on intelligence. What if we had gone and attacked Syria based on that initial intelligence? Then, after the attack, it came out that Libya had been behind it? What could we have done?”

    Marquise was the last witness for the federal grand jury on Friday, November 8, 1991. Only in the days leading up to that testimony had prosecutors zeroed in on Megrahi and another Libyan officer, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah; as late as the week of the testimony, they had hoped to pursue additional indictments, yet the evidence wasn’t there to get to a conviction.

    Mueller traveled to London to meet with the Peter Fraser, the lord advocate—Scotland’s top prosecutor—and they agreed to announce indictments simultaneously on November 15, 1991. Who got their hands on the suspects first, well, that was a question for later. The joint indictment, Mueller believed, would benefit both countries. “It adds credibility to both our investigations,” he says.

    That coordinated joint, multi-nation statement and indictment would become a model that the US would deploy more regularly in the years to come, as the US and other western nations have tried to coordinate cyber investigations and indictments against hackers from countries like North Korea, Russia, and Iran.

    To make the stunning announcement against Libya, Mueller joined FBI director William Sessions, DC US attorney Jay Stephens, and attorney general William Barr.

    “We charge that two Libyan officials, acting as operatives of the Libyan intelligence agency, along with other co-conspirators, planted and detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103,” Barr said. “I have just telephoned some of the families of those murdered on Pan Am 103 to inform them and the organizations of the survivors that this indictment has been returned. Their loss has been ever present in our minds.”

    At the same time, in Scotland, investigators there were announcing the same indictments.

    At the press conference, Barr listed a long set of names to thank—the first one he singled out was Mueller’s. Then, he continued, “This investigation is by no means over. It continues unabated. We will not rest until all those responsible are brought to justice. We have no higher priority.”

    From there, the case would drag on for years. ABC News interviewed the two suspects in Libya later that month; both denied any responsibility for the bombing. Marquise was reassigned within six months; the other investigators moved along too.

    Mueller himself left the administration when Bill Clinton became president, spending an unhappy year in private practice before rejoining the Justice Department to work as a junior homicide prosecutor in DC under then US attorney Eric Holder; Mueller, who had led the nation’s entire criminal division was now working side by side with prosecutors just a few years out of law school, the equivalent of a three-star military general retiring and reenlisting as a second lieutenant. Clinton eventually named Mueller the US attorney in San Francisco, the office where he’d worked as a young attorney in the 1970s.

    THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the bombing came and went without any justice. Then, in April 1999, prolonged international negotiations led to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi turning over the two suspects; the international economic sanctions imposed on Libya in the wake of the bombing were taking a toll on his country, and the leader wanted to put the incident behind him.

    The final negotiated agreement said that the two men would be tried by a Scottish court, under Scottish law, in The Hague in the Netherlands. Distinct from the international court there, the three-judge Scottish court would ensure that the men faced justice under the laws of the country where their accused crime had been committed.

    Allowing the Scots to move forward meant some concessions by the US. The big one was taking the death penalty, prohibited in Scotland, off the table. Mueller badly wanted the death penalty. Mueller, like many prosecutors and law enforcement officials, is a strong proponent of capital punishment, but he believes it should be reserved for only egregious crimes. “It has to be especially heinous, and you have to be 100 percent sure he’s guilty,” he says. This case met that criteria. “There’s never closure. If there can’t be closure, there should be justice—both for the victims as well as the society at large,” he says.

    An old US military facility, Kamp Van Zeist, was converted to an elaborate jail and courtroom in The Hague, and the Dutch formally surrendered the two Libyans to Scottish police. The trial began in May 2000. For nine months, the court heard testimony from around the world. In what many observers saw as a political verdict, Al Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah was found not guilty.

    With barely 24 hours notice, Marquise and victim family members raced from the United States to be in the courtroom to hear the verdict. The morning of the verdict in 2001, Mueller was just days into his tenure as acting deputy US attorney general—filling in for the start of the George W. Bush administration in the department’s No. 2 role as attorney general John Ashcroft got himself situated.

    That day, Mueller awoke early and joined with victims’ families and other officials in Washington, who watched the verdict announcement via a satellite hookup. To him, it was a chance for some closure—but the investigation would go on. As he told the media, “The United States remains vigilant in its pursuit to bring to justice any other individuals who may have been involved in the conspiracy to bring down Pan Am Flight 103.”

    The Scotbom case would leave a deep imprint on Mueller; one of his first actions as FBI director was to recruit Kathryn Turman, who had served as the liaison to the Pan Am 103 victim families during the trial, to head the FBI’s Victim Services Division, helping to elevate the role and responsibility of the FBI in dealing with crime victims.

    JUST MONTHS AFTER that 20th anniversary ceremony with Mueller at Arlington National Cemetery, in the summer of 2009, Scotland released a terminally ill Megrahi from prison after a lengthy appeals process, and sent him back to Libya. The decision was made, the Scottish minister of justice reported, on “compassionate grounds.” Few involved on the US side believed the terrorist deserved compassion. Megrahi was greeted as a hero on the tarmac in Libya—rose petals, cheering crowds. The US consensus remained that he should rot in prison.

    The idea that Megrahi could walk out of prison on “compassionate” ground made a mockery of everything that Mueller had dedicated his life to fighting and doing. Amid a series of tepid official condemnations—President Obama labeled it “highly objectionable”—Mueller fired off a letter to Scottish minister Kenny MacAskill that stood out for its raw pain, anger, and deep sorrow.

    “Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision,” Mueller began. “Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of ‘compassion.’”

    That nine months after the 20th anniversary of the bombing, the only person behind bars for the bombing would walk back onto Libyan soil a free man and be greeted with rose petals left Mueller seething.

    “Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world,” Mueller wrote. “You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification—the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.”

    For Mueller, walking the fields of Lockerbie had been walking on hallowed ground. The Scottish decision pained him especially deeply, because of the mission and dedication he and his Scottish counterparts had shared 20 years before. “If all civilized nations join together to apply the rules of law to international terrorists, certainly we will be successful in ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism,” he had written in a perhaps too hopeful private note to the Scottish Lord Advocate in 1990.

    Some 20 years later, in an era when counterterrorism would be a massive, multibillion dollar industry and a buzzword for politicians everywhere, Mueller—betrayed—concluded his letter with a decidedly un-Mueller-like plea, shouted plaintively and hopelessly across the Atlantic: “Where, I ask, is the justice?”

    #USA #Libye #impérialisme #terrorisme #histoire #CIA #idéologie #propagande

  • Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG
    http://www.transatlanticperspectives.org/entry.php?rec=133
    Des fois que vous nauriez jamais compris pourquoi l’Allemagne est le meilleur ami des USA en Europe voici le résumé de la thèse d’Anne Zetsche

    Transatlantic institutions organizing German-American elite networking since the early 1950s

    Author » Anne Zetsche, Northumbria University Published: November 28, 2012 Updated: February 28, 2013

    The Cold War era witnessed an increasing transnational interconnectedness of individuals and organizations in the cultural, economic and political sphere. In this period, two organizations, the Atlantik-Brücke and the American Council on Germany, established themselves as influential facilitators, enabling German-American elite networking throughout the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. The two organizations brought together influential politicians and businesspeople, as well as representatives of the media and the academic world.

    Efforts in this regard commenced in the early days of the Cold War, only a few years after the end of World War II. In 1949, two American citizens and two Germans began developing the plan to found the Atlantik-Brücke in West Germany and a sister organization, the American Council on Germany (ACG), in the United States. Their plan was to use these two organizations as vehicles to foster amicable relations between the newly founded Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America. Only a few years prior, Americans and Germans had faced each other as enemies during World War II and many segments of German society, including West German elites, held strong, long-standing anti-American sentiments. The U.S. public in turn was skeptical as to whether Germans could indeed be denazified and convinced to develop a democratic system. Thus, in order to forge a strong Western alliance against Soviet Communism that included West Germany it was critical to overcome mutual prejudices and counter anti-Americanism in Western Europe. It was to be one of the central tasks of the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG to achieve this in West Germany.

    Individuals at the Founding of the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG

    One of the founders of the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG was Eric M. Warburg. He was a Jewish-American banker originally from Hamburg where his ancestors had founded the family’s banking house in 1798. Due to Nazi Aryanisation and expropriation policies, the Warburg family lost the company in 1938 and immigrated to the United States, settling in New York. In spite of the terror of the Nazi regime, Eric Warburg was very attached to Hamburg. He became a vibrant transatlantic commuter after World War II, living both in Hamburg and in New York. In the intertwined histories of the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG, Warburg played a special role, becoming their leading facilitator and mediator.

    Not long after his escape from the Nazis, Warburg met Christopher Emmet, a wealthy publicist and political activist who shared Warburg’s strong anti-communist stance and attachment to pre-Nazi Germany. On the German side of this transatlantic relationship, Warburg and Emmet were joined by Marion Countess Dönhoff, a journalist at the liberal West German weekly Die Zeit, and by Erik Blumenfeld, a Christian Democratic politician and businessmen. There were two main characteristics shared by the original core founders of the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG: firstly, each one of the founding quartet belonged to an elite – economic, social or political – and was therefore well-connected with political, diplomatic, business and media circles in both the United States and Germany. Secondly, there was a congruence of basic dispositions among them, namely a staunch anti-communist stance, a transatlantic orientation, and an endorsement of Germany’s integration into the West.

    The Western powers sought the economic and political integration of Western Europe to overcome the devastation of Europe, to revive the world economy, and to thwart nationalism and militarism in Europe after World War II. Germany was considered Europe’s economic powerhouse and thus pivotal in the reconstruction process. West Germany also needed to be on board with security and defense policies in order to face the formidable opponent of Soviet Communism. Since the Federal Republic shared a border with the communist bloc, the young state was extremely vulnerable to potential Soviet aggression and was at the same time strategically important within the Western bloc. Elite organizations like the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG were valuable vehicles to bring West Germany on board for this ambitious Cold War project.

    Thus, in 1952 and 1954 respectively, the ACG and the Atlantik-Brücke were incorporated and granted non-profit status with the approval of John J. McCloy, U.S. High Commissioner to Germany (1949-1952). His wife Ellen McCloy was one of signatories of the ACG’s certificate of incorporation and served as its director for a number of years. The Atlantik-Brücke (originally Transatlantik-Brücke) was incorporated and registered in Hamburg.

    Transatlantic Networking

    The main purpose of both organizations was to inform Germans and Americans about the respective other country, to counter mutual prejudices, and thus contributing to the development of amicable relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States in the postwar era. This was to be achieved by all means deemed appropriate, but with a special focus on arranging personal meetings and talks between representatives of both countries’ business, political, academic, and media elites. One way was to sponsor lectures and provide speakers on issues relating to Germany and the United States. Another method was organizing visiting tours of German politicians, academics, and journalists to the United States and of American representatives to West Germany. Among the Germans who came to the U.S. under the sponsorship of the ACG were Max Brauer, a former Social Democratic mayor of Hamburg, Willy Brandt, the first Social Democratic Chancellor and former mayor of West Berlin, and Franz Josef Strauss, a member of the West German federal government in the 1950s and 1960s and later minister president of the German federal state of Bavaria. American visitors to the Federal Republic were less prominent. Annual reports of the Atlantik-Brücke explicitly mention George Nebolsine of the New York law firm Coudert Brothers and member of the International Chamber of Commerce, and the diplomats Henry J. Tasca, William C. Trimble, and Nedville E. Nordness.

    In the late 1950s the officers of the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG sought ways of institutionalizing personal encounters between key Americans and Germans. Thus they established the German-American Conferences modeled on the British-German Königswinter Conferences and the Bilderberg Conferences. The former brought together English and German elites and were organized by the German-English Society (later German-British Society). The latter were organized by the Bilderberg Group, founded by Joseph Retinger, Paul van Zeeland and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Those conferences began in 1954 and were informal, off-the-record meetings of American and West European representatives of business, media, academia and politics. Each of these conference series was important for the coordination of Western elites during the Cold War era. Bilderberg was critical in paving the way for continental European integration and the German-British effort was important for reconciling the European wartime enemies.

    From 1959 onwards, the German-American Conferences took place biennially, alternating between venues in West Germany and the United States. At the first conference in Bonn, 24 Americans came together with 27 Germans, among them such prominent individuals as Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger, and John J. McCloy on the American side, and Willy Brandt, Arnold Bergstraesser (considered to be one of the founding fathers of postwar political science in Germany), and Kurt Georg Kiesinger (third Christian Democratic Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and former minister president of the federal state Baden-Württemberg) on the German side. By 1974 the size of the delegations had increased continuously, reaching 73 American and 63 German participants.

    A central goal in selecting the delegations was to arrange for a balanced, bipartisan group of politicians, always including representatives of the Social and Christian Democrats (e.g. Fritz Erler, Kurt Birrenbach) on the German side and both Democratic and Republican senators and representatives (e.g. Henry S. Reuss, Jacob Javits) on the American side, along with academics, journalists, and businessmen. Prominent American academics attending several of the German-American conferences included Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Representatives of major media outlets were Marion Countess Dönhoff of Germany’s major liberal weekly Die Zeit, Kurt Becker, editor of the conservative daily newspaper Die Welt, and Hellmut Jaesrich, editor of the anticommunist cultural magazine Der Monat. The business community was prominently represented by John J. McCloy, the president of the Chase Manhattan Bank, and Herman Georg Kaiser, an oil producer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. From Germany, Gotthard von Falkenhausen and Eric Warburg represented the financial sector and Alexander Menne, a member of the executive board of Farbwerke Hoechst, represented German industry.

    Officers of the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG were mainly in charge of selecting the delegates for the conferences. However, Shepard Stone of the Ford Foundation also had an influential say in this process. In the late 1950s and 1960s he was director of the foundation’s international program and thus responsible for allocating funds to the ACG to facilitate the German-American conferences. Shepard Stone was deeply attached to Germany as he had pursued graduate studies in Berlin in the Weimar period, earning a doctoral degree in history. After World War II he returned to Germany as a public affairs officer of the U.S. High Commission. Stone’s continuing interest in German affairs and friendship with Eric Warburg and Marion Dönhoff regularly brought him to Germany, and he was a frequent participant in the German-American conferences.

    The German-American Conferences and Cold War Politics

    All matters discussed during the conferences stood under the headline “East-West tensions” in the earlier period and later “East-West issues” signaling the beginning of détente, but always maintaining a special focus on U.S.-German relations. The debates from the late 1950s to the early/mid-1970s can be categorized as follows: firstly, bilateral relations between the U.S. and the FRG; secondly, Germany’s relation with the Western alliance; thirdly, Europe and the United States in the Atlantic Alliance; and last but not least, relations between the West, the East, and the developing world. The conferences served three central purposes: firstly, developing a German-American network of elites; secondly, building consensus on key issues of the Cold War period; and thirdly, forming a common Western, transatlantic identity among West Germans and Americans.

    Another emphasis of both groups’ activities in the United States and Germany was the production of studies and other publications (among others, The Vanishing Swastika, the Bridge, Meet Germany, a Newsletter, Hans Wallenberg’s report Democratic Institutions, and the reports on the German-American Conferences). Studies aimed at informing Germans about developments in the United States and American international policies on the one hand, and at informing the American people about West Germany’s progress in denazification, democratization, and re-education on the other. The overall aim of these activities was first and foremost improving each country’s and people’s image in the eyes of the counterpart’s elites and wider public.

    The sources and amounts of available funds to the ACG and the Atlantik-Brücke differed considerably. Whereas the latter selected its members very carefully by way of cooptation especially among businessmen and CEOs to secure sound funding of its enterprise, the former opened membership or affiliation to basically anyone who had an interest in Germany. As a result, the ACG depended heavily, at least for its everyday business, on the fortune of the organization’s executive vice president Christopher Emmet. Emmet personally provided the salaries of ACG secretaries and set up the organization’s offices in his private apartment in New York’s upper Westside. In addition, the ACG relied on funds granted by the Ford Foundation especially for the biannual German-American conferences as well as for the publication of a number of studies. The Atlantik-Brücke in turn benefitted immensely from public funds for its publications and the realization of the German-American conferences. The Federal Press and Information Agency (Bundespresse- und Informationsamt, BPA) supported mainly publication efforts of the organization and the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) regularly granted funds for the conferences.

    Politics, Business and Membership Growth

    Membership of the Atlantik-Brücke grew from 12 in 1954 to 65 in 1974. Among them were representatives of companies like Mannesmann, Esso, Farbwerke Hoechst, Daimler Benz, Deutsche Bank, and Schering. Those members were expected to be willing and able to pay annual membership fees of 3000 to 5000 DM (approx. $750 to $1,250 in 1955, equivalent to approx. $6,475 to $10,793 today). Since the business community always accounted for the majority of Atlantik-Brücke membership compared to members from academia, media and politics, the organization operated on secure financial footing compared to its American counterpart. The ACG had not even established formal membership like its German sister organization. The people affiliated with the ACG in the 1950s up to the mid-1970s were mostly academics, intellectuals, and journalists. It posed a great difficulty for ACG officers to attract business people willing and able to contribute financially to the organization at least until the mid-1970s. When Christopher Emmet, the ACG’s “heart and soul,” passed away in 1974, the group’s affiliates and directors were mostly comprised of Emmet’s circle of friends and acquaintances who shared an interest in U.S.-German relations and Germany itself. Emmet had enlisted most of them during his frequent visits to the meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. Another group of prominent members represented the military. Several leading figures of the U.S. occupying forces and U.S. High Commission personnel joined the ACG, in addition to ranking politicians and U.S. diplomats. The ACG’s long term president, George N. Shuster had served as Land Commissioner for Bavaria during 1950-51. In 1963, Lucius D. Clay, former military governor of the U.S. zone in Germany, 1947-49, joined the ACG as honorary chairman. George McGhee, the former ambassador to Germany prominently represented U.S. diplomacy when he became director of the organization in 1969.

    Although the Atlantik-Brücke had initially ruled out board membership for active politicians, they were prominently represented. Erik Blumenfeld, for example, was an influential Christian Democratic leader in Hamburg. In 1958 he was elected CDU chairman of the federal city state of Hamburg and three years later he became a member of the Bundestag.In the course of the 1960s and 1970s more politicians joined the Atlantik-Brücke and became active members of the board: Kurt Birrenbach (CDU), Fritz Erler (SPD), W. Alexander Menne (FDP), and Helmut Schmidt (SPD). Thus, through their members and affiliates both organizations have been very well-connected with political, diplomatic, and business elites.

    Besides individual and corporate contributions, both organizations relied on funding from public and private institutions and agencies. On the German side federal agencies like the Foreign Office, the Press and Information Agency, and the Chancellery provided funding for publications and supported the German-American conferences. On the American side additional funds were provided almost exclusively by the Ford Foundation.

    Although both groups were incorporated as private associations with the objective of furthering German-American relations in the postwar era, their membership profile and sources of funding clearly illustrate that they were not operating at great distance from either public politics or official diplomacy. On the contrary, the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG represent two prominent actors in a transnational elite networking project with the aim of forging a strong anti-communist Atlantic Alliance among the Western European states and the United States of America. In this endeavor to back up public with private authority, the Atlantik-Brücke and the ACG functioned as major conduits of both transnational and transcultural exchange and transfer processes.

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